Police break up large parties near WMU campus overnight

KALAMAZOO, Mich. (NEWSCHANNEL 3) - Chaos near Western Michigan University's campus as police clamor to control partying students.

Saturday night, large crowds were gathered around the intersection of West Michigan Ave. and Howard Street. Students say the parties got so big that police started using pepper spray.

Hundreds of people could be seen walking around this area and also gathering in parking lots and outside houses. They're celebrating Welcome Week, the days before the fall semester -- which are notorious for wild parties.

Along West Michigan Ave., there have been reports of police using pepper spray to break up parties. On social media, students have been claiming tear gas was used on crowds, but that has not been confirmed.

Students who spoke to Newschannel 3 claimed that all the parties were peaceful, and police were being too aggressive.

WMU Student Brad Gardner says, "My neighbors are all 21 years old. They weren't doing anything. They were hanging out on the porch. The cops chased them into the house and started pepper spraying them inside the house. They were spraying into the house."

Student Justin Blacklock says, "Cops shine lights in windows. They're just trying to bust people for what they can. They're just trying to get someone in trouble."

Student Chris Llamas says, "I'm on both sides. I feel that it's necessary -- and unnecessary."

Kalamazoo Public Safety officers say they've just been doing what they can to control the crowds and keep people safe. Police also say they made several arrests overnight.