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By Barbara Boyer and Andrew Maykuth
The Philadelphia Inquirer

Although the Phillies' World Series victory celebration was marred by drunken vandalism and looting that left behind broken bus shelters, overturned cars, and shattered windows, officials said yesterday that the revelry could have been much uglier.
Even in the face of flying bottles and anti-police taunts, officers exercised discipline and restraint, especially when compared to past crowd-control embarrassments, officials said.
"You don't want to be aggressive unless you absolutely have to," Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey said yesterday. "We took a lot of abuse. . . . But once property destruction takes place, you've got to clear the street."
Commanders instructed officers to stay cool, and the measured chatter on the police radio during the disturbances suggested officers were keeping control. Police deliberately avoided attempting mass arrests that would incite the crowds.
"When you get chaos like that, you can't grab everybody," said Deputy Commissioner Richard J. Ross Jr., who directed operations from a command post on Spring Garden Street. "You grab the worst of the worst."
Police said 76 people, a majority of them college students, were arrested, mostly for misdemeanors such as disorderly conduct or vandalism.
Twelve of those arrested, however, were charged with assaults on officers.
Mayor Nutter said officials were studying videos of the disturbances to identify those responsible for "idiotic, destructive behavior."
He said more arrests were forthcoming.
"We will find them and we will prosecute them," the mayor said at a news conference outlining today's massive victory parade, which could attract a million people to the streets.
Police said they had drawn lessons from previous crowd-control incidents, such as the 2000 Republican National Convention, and the 2001 Mardi Gras celebration on South Street in which bottle-throwing looters forced police to retreat.
This time, injuries to officers were few. Two were treated at and released from Hahnemann University Hospital after their patrol car was hit by a drunk driver.
"There's a lot of things that could have gone wrong that did not go wrong," Ross said.
Ross said police reduced potential conflicts between crowds and motorists by blocking vehicular traffic to the areas where crowds historically have gathered in South Philadelphia and Northeast Philadelphia.
Thousands of college students converged on Center City after the National League Championship Series victory on Oct. 15, and police expected a repeat performance in Center City. So they barricaded nearly a mile of South Broad Street and allowed pedestrians to take over.
Police also monitored an influx of fans from the Pennsylvania and New Jersey suburbs arriving by road and rail. Officers barricaded expressway exit ramps to limit motorists from entering troubled areas, forcing them to walk great distances if they wanted to join the party.
Capt. Daniel Castro, head of the department's Command Inspection Bureau, roamed throughout the city as a tsunami of humanity spilled from nightspots and homes.
"This is a hot corner," Castro said as he passed through Broad Street and Snyder Avenue at 9:55 p.m., when it was occupied only by police officers, minutes before the final out. "Trust me, that will change."
As the revelers arrived in waves, Castro and hundreds of other officers helped keep the crowd calm.
On Race Street near Broad, he watched several men persuade their friends to extinguish a trash fire they had just started.
The victory celebration was largely peaceful for the first two hours. Police mostly stood by as thousands of fans caroused.
"The majority of people celebrated responsibly, but around 12 to 12:30, it took a downturn," Ramsey said yesterday.
The celebration began to go out of control, particularly in Center City, where drunken revelers began to destroy public property and parked vehicles.
Monitoring the crowds from a bank of video screens at the Spring Garden Street command post, police commanders quickly dispatched several buses of officers in riot gear. Supported by state police mounted and aerial units, the reinforcements moved into Broad Street, breaking up the crowd and restoring order.
After the revelers had gone home, bottles and broken glass covered the street, newspapers blew in the wind, and some fires still smoldered. Several cars were turned over, and more yawned with shattered windshields.
"It looked like Beirut," Ross said. "If you looked at the street, you would have thought all the windows were broken out."
Not everybody thought the department's response was exemplary.
"This was by far the most poorly planned detail I've ever worked," one officer wrote anonymously on Domelights.com, a Web site for police commentary.
But police commanders yesterday said the proof that the response was successful was in the relatively small numbers of injuries and limited property damage.
"We did the best we could to try to contain it," Ramsey said. "When you look at all the people that were there, actually, it wasn't as bad as it could have been."
Police Seek Help
Philadelphia police have asked the public for help in going after those responsible for looting, vandalism and other felonious activities during the celebration following the Phillies' World Series victory Wednesday night.

Wire Service
 
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