Men arrested at Silver Street Tavern have Colby connections

On Saturday, October 17, local police arrested six men in a chaotic brawl outside of Club Spirits, a Waterville bar. Club Spirits, more commonly known to Colby students as Viper, is a weekend dance club located in the basement of Silver Street Tavern on 2 Silver Street in Waterville. Usually characterized by its fun and lively atmosphere, the mood all changed when an initial argument erupted into a scuffle that Saturday night. Almost immediately, the fracas escalated into a large, chaotic brawl, requiring the help of five different local police forces to  assist in containing the situation. Police say the fight involved 50 people and of these, six men were arrested on the spot and many others ended up with minor injuries. Of additional importance to the Colby community is the fact that an outside contractor for a construction project on the Colby campus currently employs a number of the men who were arrested. Though none of these men are employees of the college, the more important concern is how this event can be reconciled with the new focus the College has on improving its relationship with the Waterville community. The workers involved in the fight are associated with the college, and their involvement in this disorderly melee reflects very negatively on our college community.

In an interview with the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel, Waterville Police Chief Joseph Massey stated that the fight might have started when someone was punched in the face in Club Spirits, though police couldn’t confirm that report. From there, the fight began to escalate in size and intensity, as other people in the vicinity became engaged in the growing disagreement. An anonymous reliable source from Silver Street Tavern explained that after the initial outbreak of violence, the bar staff worked to contain the dispute and were able to move it upstairs. They handled the situation well by calling the Waterville police and attempting to ease the fight outside. By the time the Waterville police officers arrived, however, the fight had fully escalated into a 50 person chaotic brawl on Silver Street. Groups of people were challenging each other on the street, swearing and shouting as the police tried to make sense of the situation.

The Waterville officers were not equipped to handle the scale of the situation, and were compelled to call in help from the Winslow, Oakland and Fairfield police departments, as well as Kennebec County Sheriff’s officers. As more fighting began to break out within the riotous crowd, the police officers ordered the crowd on the street to disperse and threatened to arrest anyone who did not leave. Eventually, Waterville Police officers had no choice but to arrest several people who refused to stop fighting. The officers noted that the size and intensity of the brawl was extremely dangerous, but that the outcome of the fight could have been much worse than it was. Winslow Police Chief Shawn O’Leary opined to the Kennebec Journal and Morning Sentinel that “this is another situation where alcohol got involved and people got into fights, and when you have 40 or 50 people involved, not knowing who the aggressors are, it’s a very dangerous situation.” Luckily, no officers or bystanders were hurt. Overall, the Silver Street Tavern staff, as well as the Waterville and neighboring police departments, acted promptly and efficiently, and were therefore able to stop the brawl, and prevent more serious injuries to persons or property.   

In the end, six men were arrested. Five of these men were from Massachusetts and were working at Colby College. They were charged with obstructing government administration, refusing to submit to arrest or detention, and failure to disperse, along with additional charges of fighting, assault, physical force and criminal mischief. Two of the arrested men fled from a cruiser after they were arrested but were quickly apprehended, and a felony escape charge was added to the charges against them. All were taken to Kennebec County jail in Augusta.

The Silver Street fight was very serious as it disturbed the peace and endangered innocent patrons and bystanders.  When other police departments are required to respond to an emergency in Waterville, it leaves their own departments without coverage, and puts neighboring communities at risk. The fact that many of the men involved and arrested in this melee were in Waterville because of their employment at a Colby College construction project reflects poorly on the College, and undermines Colby’s recent initiative to improve its relationship with the Waterville community. It was not clear if these men are still working at the construction site on Colby’s campus, because workers at the construction site refused to discuss the event and, when asked about the incident, claimed not to know anything about it.  However, the College wants to send a strong message that no future incidents of this type will be tolerated. The Colby community wants to help and assist the larger Waterville community, not be a source of problems and disruptions.

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