Pandas on the prowl in Williamsburg

(Credit: Urbanite)

From Dantekgeek via flickr

A roving street party turned ugly Saturday night when police confronted hundreds of people — some of the dressed up as panda bears -- in the Williamsburg section of Brooklyn.

The police say that they arrested two of the organizers, who were charged with inciting a riot. Videos of some of the clashes quickly made their rounds on the Internet and blogs.

The party was called “Pandamonium 2008” and word of it was distributed on social networking sites and Twitter. Participants who signed up for updates were told to meet at Union Square at 8:30 for a “Costumed+Roving+Street+Party+Apocalypitc+Dance+Rock+Battle.”

The group migrated over to Williamsburg, where they occupied the streets around the Bedford Avenue L stop for several blocks. Witnesses estimated that there were about 300 people in attendance, many of whom had black and white face paint, wore masks and were dressed in white painter’s outfits.

The participants were chanting, “Whose street? Out street!” and some began overturning newspaper boxes. They were soon accompanied by a sizeable police presence including squad cars, helicopters, and fire trucks.

“Hundreds of people were out on the sidewalk, dancing, yelling, having a good time,” said Noel Hidalgo, a community activist who goes by the name No Neck and who witnessed the event. “Police were trying to control people and clear the streets and that’s when it got out of control.”

Some of the participants said the purpose behind “Pandamonium 2008 remained unclear.

“I’m not quite sure what the whole idea was other than to wreak havoc,” said Dan Lurie, 19, a City College student. “It was an interesting event but I’m not sure there was a message here.”

--David Freedlander

Tags: pandas , performance art , protest , brooklyn

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