A crowd of youths last night smashed display windows and looted at least one store at a Southeast intersection in a half-hour outburst of bottle throwing that followed a disruption at a soul music concert in Anacostia Park.
District and Park police, some wearing helmets and carrying riot sticks, rushed to the intersection of Pennsylvania and Minnesota avenues SE, sealing off the area for several blocks around. About a dozen persons were arrested in the melee at the intersection, which lasted about 30 minutes, police said. Most were charged with disorderly conduct; one was charged with carrying a weapon.
Three persons, all civilians, suffered minor cuts and bruises in the incident, police said. They were treated at George Washington University Hospital and released.
Police said the youths smashed 18 large display windows at Morton's department store at 2324 Pennsylvania Ave., stripped display mannequins of clothing and grabbed other merchandise from just inside the store's front door. Glass doors at an adjacent liquor store were also smashed, but apparently nothing has taken from there, police said.
The disturbance at the intersection about 8:30 p.m. followed an incident at the park where about 15,000 persons gathered to hear the musical group "Rare Essence." Police said a fight broke out in the crowd, and as officers moved in to stop the fight, groups of youths began fighting with the officers.
As police reinforcement flocked to the scene, hundreds of youths began fleeing the park. An estimated 400 to 500 of the youths gathered at bus stops near Morton's, about six blocks from the concert.
Apparently without provocation, several persons in the crowd began throwing bottles at the store's display windows. Others joined in, in some instances using the window mannequins as battering rams to smash more windows.
Most of the crowd dispersed as police descended on the intersection, and police officials said they had little trouble bringing the situation under control.
"They got about 20 feet into [Morton's] before we were able to stop them" said Lt. Warren Copeland of the 6th Police District.
"When we got here, there were about 10 still inside and we were able to prevent much from being taken," Copeland said. "Most of the crowd was very cooperative. It was only about 20-to-30 kids who caused the disturbance."
Several persons in the crowd, interviewed later, agreed that the disturbance at the intersection appeared to be a spontaneous result of the earlier fracas at the concert. "When the police came [to the park] everyone started running and we came up here and everyone started throwing bottles," said one 15-year-old.
Another youth told a reporter: "We all came up here to get away from the fighting. Man, they were really doing it, breaking windows, taking clothes off dummies. It was like a riot or something."
An estimate of damage at the two store and of the value of merchandise taken was not available early today.