Melee on BI ferry causes Mass Casualty Incident response
Between social media and eye-witness accounts, there was plenty of evidence of an out-of-control situation at Ballard’s Beach Resort and on the Block Island Ferry on Monday during and after Ballard’s Reggae Festival that this year was held on Victory Day. As Tuesday wore on, more videos appeared.
One that was shared with ABC 6 shows a fist fight breaking out between several men at Ballard’s during the concert. Other videos show people fighting in line at the ferry, and upon boarding the boat. Later that night, television newscasts showed a heavy police response to the ferry dock in Galilee.
Just a couple of weeks ago, Ballard’s owner Steven Filippi had said in a letter to the New Shoreham Town Council and copied to The Block Island Times: “I’m eager to demonstrate Ballard’s deep commitment to implementing prudent measures to protect the health, safety, and welfare of Block Island’s residents and visitors.”
This was in response to a problematic Fourth of July at Ballard’s and subsequent “compliance checks” on July 16 and 17 by state police to assess whether liquor license holders were properly requiring proof of age before serving alcohol. Ballard’s failed the compliance check on both days.
Around 3:30 in the afternoon of the reggae festival, an event that was scheduled to go on from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m., a private ambulance, two state police cars, and a New Shoreham Police Department truck were parked outside Ballard’s and there was a long line outside the door to get in. Towards the end of the pier, by the bait dock, people could be seen sneaking in around the end of the snow fence onto the beach where the cabanas are.
One video shows people just trampling over that same fence and streaming into the venue from the ferry. Even after a state police trooper stood in front of the downed fence, people could be seen sneaking in right behind him.
On the eastern beach side, the shore was packed, both within the Ballard’s fence and on the southern side of it, with people so close to each other it was almost impossible to walk between the chairs, blankets and umbrellas. Empty cups, containers of alcohol, and barbershop-striped red and white straws littered the beach.
Filippi’s letter also says: “we will have security staff posted at the beach fence between Ballard’s and the Land Trust in order to prevent circumvention of our front door screening process.”
The fence in that area had been doubled up and when The Block Island Times was there, the security guard appeared to be a male no older than 16, who wasn’t paying much attention to what was going on. One concert attendee told The Times that the same guard was seen with a “girl on his lap” at one point.
Others told us that Ballard’s had a total of six security guards as well as the help from the state and local police.
At approximately 6:30 p.m., “troopers responded to a disturbance at Ballard’s Beach Resort and arrested Jacob Dorbor, age 30 of Providence, for disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior),” according to a statement from the R.I. State Police.
As early as 4 p.m. there were long lines for the ferry back to the mainland, with lines from the dock all the way up to the taxi-stand. For later boats the lines got longer and longer.
The Rhode Island State Police told The Times that six “additional troopers” were assigned to the island for the day to assist the New Shoreham Police Department and state troopers were assigned to the scheduled ferries throughout the night. But, when Interstate added two additional boat trips, there were no troopers on board.
Yet another video shows a small U.S. Coast Guard boat pulling up to the stern of one of those unscheduled ferries, while it was still underway, and six police officers leaping onto the deck with guns drawn.
It was on that boat, the second to last to leave the island that a brawl broke out between what appears to have been between two rival groups of men, one from Pawtucket, and one from Providence.
According to the Washington County Fire Wire, a call went out for a “Mass Casualty Incident” and multiple agencies responded from South Kingstown, North Kingstown, and Narragansett.
There were reports from WCFW of “lacerations,” perhaps from a razor or switch blade.
Police boarded the ferry with long guns drawn and after the boat was emptied, continued to search with a police dog.
Two people were transported to Rhode Island Hospital but several others may have been injured as there were “multiple refusals,” according to Rhode Island State Police.
Seven individuals were arrested, six men and one woman.
-Michael Carvalho, 26, of Providence, was charged with disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior).
-Cassandra R. Laurie, 30, of Providence, was charged with obstructing an officer in the execution of duty.
-Trent Manning, 32, of Providence, was charged with disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior).
-Abdou Njie, 37, of Pawtucket, was charged with disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior).
-Deavon Silva, 20, of Pawtucket, was charged with disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior).
-Miguel G. Silva, 36, of Pawtucket, was charged with disorderly conduct (fighting/tumultuous behavior).
-Chevron R. Towns, 20, of Providence, was charged with weapons other than firearms prohibited.
The individuals were transported to the Wickford Barracks and arraigned in front of a justice of the peace before being released with pending court dates in Fourth District Court.
In a statement released by the town Tuesday, First Warden André Boudreau and Second Warden Sven Risom said: “We are shocked and saddened by the incident on the Block Island Ferry last night and we appreciate the work of the first responders who took action to restore order. As a Council, we are committed to making Block Island a healthy community and a wonderful place to live and visit and are united in that goal.”