VEISHEA riot brings back painful memories in Cedar Falls - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

VEISHEA riot brings back painful memories in Cedar Falls

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Courtesy Noah Cary/Iowa State Daily Courtesy Noah Cary/Iowa State Daily

Tuesday night's VEISHEA riots in Ames brought back some painful memories for those in Cedar Falls that experienced similar riots years earlier.

Rioting crowds flipped cars in Campustown, just blocks from the Iowa State campus. Police say they had to fight through the crowd to reach the injured.

"Unfortunately, the true purpose of VEISHEA has been overshadowed by too many acts of this natures, which jeopardizes the safety of our students and the entire Ames community," ISU President Steve Leath said in a press conference. He then canceled the remaining 2014 VEISHEA activities.

Seeing the rioters, brought Cedar Falls Police Chief Jeff Olson back to the day in 1996. Homecoming crowds spilled out into the streets of the College Hill neighborhood.

"As the crowd got out of control, you know we had to regroup and figure out how to attack that," Olson said. Because when you have several thousand people and maybe 20 police officers. That's very difficult to do much."

Crowds in Cedar Falls wrecked vehicles and broke out the windows of business and police cars. Olson said outnumbered officers have to walk a fine line.

"You don't want to aggravate the crowd more," Olson said. "Yet, you know you've got to make a determination where do we step in, when do we try to do that."

1996 was a learning experience. Now, officers are prepared with training and equipment. But 1996 were a learning they're prepared...With training and gear. They even plan to put officers on elevated lookout positions if they anticipate trouble.

Still, in recent years, it hasn't been an issue.

Technology has changed as well. Olson said with so many people shooting video, rioters can be held accountable for their actions. On the other side though, posts on social media can attract more people to the problem area.

"So that kind of complicates things in that regard," Olson said. "But the video is certainly an advantage when we get a hold of it."

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