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Drinking, fights top police calls during St. Paul Park Heritage Days

St. Paul Park police fielded nearly 30 emergency calls and arrested or cited at least seven people for various violations during the recent Heritage Days festival. Calls ranged from fights to intoxicated revelers acting in defiance of police officers during the peak of the weekend festival. Most calls were between the night of Aug. 19 and the morning of Aug. 21.

"I think things were pretty much average," said St. Paul Park Police Chief Mike Monahan, who tracked police reports that were specific to the festival.

The tradition allowing festival-goers to drink alcohol on and near Broadway Avenue did contribute to some of the police calls.

In one case, a police officer cited Tennis Sanitation owner Willie Tennis for allegedly obstructing the legal process and creating a public nuisance following a dispute over whether he could drink beer in the middle of Broadway Avenue after the Saturday night street dance.

According to a police report, two authorities asked Tennis to leave the street shortly after 11 p.m. because the dance had ended and the street was reopened to traffic. They asked him to walk to the sidewalk, but Tennis refused, claiming he had a right to drink alcohol in the street until 11:59 p.m. because the city's ordinance allowed it during Heritage Days. After Tennis twice refused to leave the street, police threatened to arrest him. He moved to the sidewalk, but "then incited others to enter the street and challenge the police with his understanding of an ordinance allowing drinking in the street until 11:59," the police report said.

Tennis said in an interview Tuesday that he is familiar with the ordinance and could not understand why police kicked him off the street.

"He slapped my drink right out of my hand," Tennis alleged of an officer.

Monahan said Broadway Avenue is cleared of people before midnight and that the city ordinance had not changed from previous festivals.

"There's no reason for that," Tennis said.

Tennis said he will challenge the citations.

"I guess I just need to know, can I be out there visiting with people or can't I?" he said of drinking in the street after the dance.

There were other police incidents throughout the weekend. According to the police reports:

- An Apple Valley man was arrested for outstanding Dakota County warrants early Friday after an altercation in the 300 block of Broadway Avenue. A Newport woman claimed the man swore at her after she refused to give him cigarettes. The emergency call was for a report of a man trying to pick a fight with a pregnant woman.

- A 23-year-old Cottage Grove man was cited for disorderly conduct for his alleged involvement in a fight with another man in the 400 block of Broadway Avenue early Sunday morning. As an officer tried to stop the fight, the man allegedly hit a woman in the head.

- A 54-year-old Shakopee man was transported early Sunday to detox after registering a blood-alcohol concentration of 0.141, nearly twice the legal drinking limit.

- A St. Paul man was cited for disorderly conduct late Saturday after trying to engage others in a fight. "He squared off and was making threatening statements and gestures inciting people to fight with him," the report said.

- Police early Sunday stopped a St. Paul Park woman who was hitting vehicles with a stick in the 600 block of Pleasant Avenue. The woman said she was hitting the cars because she was angry following a fight she had been in. She was released without charges.

- Police from several departments responded to the Super America gas station early Sunday on a report of a possible fight. There were 20 to 25 people gathered, but a man involved had left and the crowd calmly dispersed.

- An Inver Grove Heights man was transported to detox early Sunday after police found him on steps in the 300 block of Broadway Avenue. His blood-alcohol level was 0.329, four times the legal driving limit. A condition of his driver's license prohibited any alcohol use.

- Police took a St. Paul Park man home early Sunday after he was found in the grass in the 800 block of Third Street. He was intoxicated and had passed out.

- A St. Paul Park man was removed from Heritage Days late Saturday by police after he allegedly tried to steal a six-wheeled motorized vehicle. Festival chair Jim Domeier stopped the man and told him he needed to leave, but police responded to assist.

- A 20-year-old Cottage Grove woman was cited for underage consumption and underage possession on Friday night after police questioned her and another woman about whether they were old enough to drink. They claimed they were 21 but one woman later admitted she was 20. "Here, you can have this," the report said she told police as she handed over her beer.

- A St. Paul Park woman told police Saturday evening that an 8-year-old boy had gone missing. He was found safe a short time later.

- A 28-year-old South St. Paul man was cited for violating the city's liquor ordinance Saturday night after police found him drinking a beer one block outside the designated festival drinking area.

- A 45-year-old Newport woman was given a ride home Saturday afternoon by police after she was seen bumping into a fence while walking along St. Paul Park Road. Her blood alcohol level was 0.185, more than twice the legal drinking limit.

- Police made contact Saturday afternoon with a Prescott man who had been staggering while walking around and flashing a handful of $20 bills at people. He told police he was counting his money and then offered the officer "some." The man struggled to put the money back in his pocket. A friend later picked up him.

- Two women fell and were injured in separate incidents while walking in the 400 block of Broadway Avenue Saturday afternoon. They were treated for injuries. There was no indication alcohol was involved. One woman said she tripped on curbing of Broadway Avenue, which has not yet received a final pavement layer after reconstruction earlier this summer.

- A 34-year-old Lake City woman was cited Saturday morning for drinking beer outside the city's designated festival drinking area on and near Broadway Avenue.

- Police found a St. Cloud man passed out on the side of the Super America gas station building early Saturday morning. He was intoxicated and released to a relative.

- A 19-year-old Cottage Grove resident was cited for open bottle in a vehicle after being stopped late Friday near Broadway Avenue.

- A Cottage Grove woman late Friday reported the theft of her purse and its contents, including money and an iPhone, while she was at the American Legion bar. She said she left the items on a chair while she left to dance for 3 minutes.

Scott Wente

Scott Wente has been editor at the South Washington County Bulletin since 2011. He worked as a reporter at other Forum Communications newspapers from 2003 to 2011.

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