Fights break out in Public Square during St. Patrick's Day festivities

CLEVELAND - Several people were arrested Thursday afternoon during waves of violence that turned an otherwise peaceful St. Patrick's day into hours of melees.

Fights broke out in Public Square around 3 p.m. and continued for over three hours. Tower City was shut down for several minutes and a portion of the square was cordoned off until police as police worked to control hundreds of peple who packed the square.

One Cleveland police officer was injured in the chaos and taken by ambulance to an area hospital. The severity of his injuries were not known.

The majority of those arrested were teenagers. Some molded their fingers into gang signs that they showed before, during and after the fights.

One man lost consciousness after being punched and layed on the concrete until an ambulance arrived almost an hour later. He was awake as he loaded into the vehicle and rushed to the hospital.

Cleveland police, sheriffs deputies and transit police converged on the square. Some used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. Mounted police used their horses to scatter people during an altercation between two women that ended with both arrested.

"It's crazy, you know. People come down here to have a good time and they come down here fighting," said Morgan Marshall-Rogers, who brought her 3-month-old daughter downtown for the infant's first St. Patrick's Day.

Cleveland police said Thursday's warmer weather resulted in larger crowds than usual for the St. Patrick's Day celebration, raising the potential for sporadic violence.

"If it's snowing or raining you wouldn't have this problem," said Cleveland police information officer Sgt. Sammy Morris.

Morris said 35 people were arrested.  Many were handcuffed and loaded into vans.

Some bystanders complained about the way police handled the outbreaks of violence.

"I think that the mace was really unecessary and a lot of innocent people got hurt," said Diontae Adams.

Also, the sobriety checkpoint conducted by Cleveland police at West 3rd Street and Huron AVenue between 5 and 7 p.m. resulted in three DUI arrests, 14 traffic citations and three vehicles towed from the scene.

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