Philadelphia police shut down 11 blocks of South Street between 1 and 2 a.m. Sunday after officers decided that large crowds, estimated as high as 20,000 people, were in danger of overwhelming the area.
Lt. Frank Vanore, a police spokesman, said Saturday night’s crowds apparently swelled because of rumors among local teenagers about the Greek Picnic, once an annual event that drew thousands of members of African American college fraternities and sororities to the city.
While it was not held this year, a substitute event, which had difficulty securing a venue, drew some Greeks to the city.
Vanore said local teenagers often had flocked to South Street on the Saturday night of the picnic.
Meanwhile, in an unrelated disturbance around 7 p.m. Sunday in Old City, police said they were investigating a large fight that broke out in which two people were stabbed and taken to nearby hospitals. Authorities said the fight took place at Chestnut and Letitia Streets.
A 19-year-old man was taken to Thomas Jefferson University Hospital with a stab wound to the right forearm and was listed in stable condition. Another man, with a wound to the abdomen, was taken to Hahnemann University Hospital where he was taken into surgery. No additional information about his age or his condition was available Sunday night.
Vanore said authorities were sorting through information last night to determine what started the brawl.
In the disturbance on South Street in the early morning hours Sunday, police shut down South Street with the help of state police mounted officers. Some local youths then headed toward Broad Street, prompting reports of disturbances there, Vanore said.
Vanore said those problems were relatively minor, with 15 arrests for summary offenses such as disorderly conduct and underage drinking.
“The problems we have had nothing to do with the Greek Picnic events, and they never have,” Vanore said. “The problem we have is that kids just kind of congregate on that night.”