As many of you are aware, a serious confrontation took place in Pullman Sunday morning involving the police and a number of our students. Following are a letter to the University community from President Smith and Sunday’s news release about these events. We will provide updated information as it becomes available.

Open Letter to the University Community

The attached press release provides the facts of events this past weekend in Pullman. What such a release does not express is the dismay that all of us at WSU and in the Pullman community share that an isolated incident involving students can portray the WSU community in such a negative light. WSU Pullman has 17,000 students; only a small percentage of those students were involved in the activities this weekend. I want to take this opportunity to recognize those students and community members who assisted us in containing damage both to property and individuals. I also commend the law enforcement personnel who demonstrated great restraint in the face of attack.

As we enter a week of celebration of the achievements of our graduates, it is important to remember that WSU has been and will continue to be an institution that cares about its community and its students.


Samuel H. Smith

May 3, 1998

[Written at 6:30 a.m. based on preliminary information provided by police authorities, and released at 7:00 a.m. May 3.] Media contact: Barbara Petura, 509/335-3581

PULLMAN, Wash.—At approximately 12:30 a.m. Sunday, May 3, City of Pullman police officers were called to a car-pedestrian incident on Colorado Avenue in a residential area adjacent to Washington State University. Some 100-200 people, many apparently WSU students, were involved in a party in the area.
Beer cans and rocks were tossed at the officers by a small number of individuals in the crowd, causing the officers to move back. That incident drew several hundred more onlookers. Three or four fires were set in the street.
Small amounts of water, smoke and tear gas were used to peacefully disperse the crowd, but were not effective. Plans for additional use of tear gas were put in place but proved to be unnecessary. By 5:45 a.m., the crowd had dispersed on its own.
Estimates of damage are not available at this time. The primary damage appears to be broken windows in one or more buildings and windshields of several cars and city vehicles.
A total of 23 officers sustained minor injuries and went to Pullman Memorial Hospital for treatment. Their injuries include a fractured ankle, a sprained thumb and abrasions. As of 9 a.m., there were reports of two students going in for treatment.
No evidence of the car-pedestrian incident has been found at this time.
The Pullman Police Department were assisted by WSU, Colfax and Moscow (Idaho) police; city, WSU and Rural District 12 fire departments; Whitman and Latah (Idaho) County sheriff’s departments; and the Washington State Patrol. A small contingent from the National Guard was activated and placed on alert to provide back-up support if needed.
City and university officials including Mayor Mitch Chandler and WSU President Samuel Smith were on hand with police officers during the night to monitor the situation and assist in decision-making.