City calculates cost of near riot at fairgrounds

Dec. 9, 2011

The near riot on the first night of the Wisconsin State Fair resulted in at least $30,000 in additional West Allis police overtime, city officials estimate.

Although violence didn't erupt after that first night, police had extra patrols in neighborhoods around the fair and took other security measures, including setting up a command post inside State Fair Park for the event's remaining 10 days.

That first night, dozens if not a couple hundred black youths went out of control, first beating each other, then beating whites as they left the fair. They stopped traffic, banged and walked on cars. Some robberies also were reported.

West Allis gets money annually from the fair to help provide year-round security and help with municipal costs associated with having the fair in West Allis, said City Administrator Paul Ziehler. The city and the fair negotiate the amount to go to the city, which is in the second year of a five-year agreement, he said.

The cost of providing services to the fair varies, Ziehler said, but generally the negotiated amount is equitable to both sides. He didn't see a reason to try to reopen negotiations to increase that payment unless this kind of expense recurs year after year.

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