October 31, 1975:
What began as a Greenville downtown Halloween celebration turned into a riot. Eight students and two Greenville Police Officers were injured. 57 other people were arrested. The event made headlines in North Carolina and Virginia.
An account of the incident from the ECU yearbook, goes like this: Around 11:00 pm the police attempted to disperse a crowd of about 400 persons. The crowd had gathered on Cotanche Street, between 4th & 5th streets.
Chief of Police Glenn Cannon gave the order and the crowd was allowed five minutes to disperse. Some witnesses say the order could not be heard by most of the crowd.
The police then deployed a tear gas fogger (seen in the photo above) and tear gas canisters to break up the crowd. Tear gas was also sprayed in the nightclubs along Cotanche Street, forcing the patrons out and into the streets.
Soon people began throwing rocks and bricks at the police, and some people threw bricks through storefront windows. Damages to storefronts was estimated at $3,000. The police arrested 27 people for failure to disperse, and 29 others were arrested for inciting a riot.
In the days and weeks following the riot and arrests, there was much discussion about the incident among citizens, the ECU community, the police, and the media. Many felt the incident was a poor reflection of ECU, but only about half of those arrested were ECU students. Opinions were mixed and remain so this day. Some condemned the police as overreacting. Others praised them for taking control of the situation.
Halloweens have changed drastically since those days. And nobody wants to go back there, again.