Deltopia, the annual social media-promoted street party in Isla Vista, took a violent turn Saturday night, when many of the 15,000 in attendance began throwing rocks, bricks, and bottles at authorities after an arrest related to a UCSB Police officer being hit in the head with a backpack stuffed with alcohol bottles. Sheriff’s Department spokesperson Kelly Hoover said the riot broke out on the 6700 block of Del Playa Drive around 9:30 p.m. and “soon afterward the situation escalated into a major disturbance, emergency situation.”
Hoover said authorities from around the county and also from Ventura County joined the Sheriff’s Department in dealing with the crowd, which she said also took to destroying stop signs, lighting small fires, and damaging police cars. Law enforcement used tear gas and rubber bullets to disperse the group. Hoover said the process took several hours and that five Sheriff’s deputies were injured, including one who was hit in the face with a brick and two who were hit in the hands with bottles.
The riot resulted in 26 people being sent to the hospital, Hoover added, and 18 arrests. Over the course of the day, more than 100 people were arrested and 44 people were sent to the hospital. Sirens and helicopters could be heard throughout the Goleta Valley into the wee hours.
The 15,000 revelers were reportedly made up of college students — and some high school students — from around the state. On social media, alongside half-nude selfies and swilling shots, the buzz was that the party had gotten out of hand, that this was probably the last Deltopia ever, and that out-of-towners had no respect for the community and led the violence and trashing. There was also some anti-police rhetoric, and video footage of the scene showed lots of defiant revelers openly taunting authorities, with at least three stop signs being hoisted in the air. Many compared the day to the feature film Project X, in which a dream party full of liquor and drugs commences and disorder results.