Shockoe Bottom residents and businesses concerned over Shamrock fracas

Posted at 7:33 PM, Mar 19, 2013

RICHMOND, Va. (WTVR)--The video has gone viral; posted to YouTube, it shows Richmond Police officers using force to control members of the crowd at Saturday’s ‘Shamrock The Block‘ event in Richmond’s Shockoe Bottom.

Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association President David Napier said it's not the attention they want, though.

"We love the festivals. We don't want people to think that if there's a festival in Shockoe Bottom it's going to be a brawl,” Napier said. "The problems have grown at the same rate as the event.”.

Shamrock the Block drew roughly 30,000 people to the Bottom and Napier says only 17 off-duty officers were hired to work the event.

That's on top of the regular patrol officers assigned to the area, according to the Richmond Police Department, but they would not give us an exact number.

A Shockoe Bottom business owner said it can be “a little bit of a difficult festival for us to work through.”

“I would like for us to see a little bit more family-oriented next year,” John Van Peppen, owner of Arcadia restaurant.

He said the festival took away a quarter of his business.

"I think if we cut off at 4, it gives us the time to get the place cleaned up…and for the businesses to get back to what they're doing for dinner,” he said. “And then, we as business owners can control the people who are coming into the restaurants,” Peppen said.

Napier believes that for everyone's safety, the people who live and work in Shockoe need to know what's going on with these events. He said that while the promoters hired police, and worked closely with them, they aren’t working closely with Shockoe residents to get feedback.

“Now, we're going to have to have some say in how this festival goes,” Napier said,” if it's going to stay down here.”

He thinks that police “did a great job down here given the circumstances.”

Mike Murphy, of ThreeOneOne Productions, LLC released a statement to CBS 6. They believe the “media has chosen to sensationalize” instead of focus on other positives about the event.

“Our goal is and has always been to operate our events as safely and responsibly as possible for our patrons, sponsors and clients.  As with any event this size, you will have people that behave inappropriately and make poor decisions.  In fairness, any questions regarding a current police matter should be directed to RPD, but we do know that RPD has done a tremendous job over the last 10 years and have been most tolerant to the select few that push the limits of common sense.  This is what they are trained to do.”

The statement goes on to point out that RPD records show that there were five misdemeanor arrests made during the entire Shamrock the Block event, four which were directly associated with that one incident.

“For a crowd that size and to have a limited number of incidents truly reflects the professionalism of RPD and that the majority of people who attend the festival are there to have a great time responsibly, enjoy the music and support the merchants of Shockoe Bottom.”

“It’s unfortunate that the spotlight is put on a particular incident rather than the overall event and positives, such as a proven track-record of safety, the tens of thousands of dollars raised for the involved charities, the hundreds of folks that volunteer their time and energy to support a cause, the massive revenue the festival brings to the merchants of Shockoe Bottom on that day or the fact the festival remains free to attend from the support of the sponsors.  We would ask the media to mention these points as well, as we very rarely get requests to comment on that…”

The Shockoe Bottom Neighborhood Association will hold its monthly meeting Monday, March 25, at 5:30 p.m. to discuss the Shamrock the Block incident.