CHARLOTTE, N.C. -- After weeks of preparations and security precautions for the arrival of several hundred thousand people in Charlotte’s uptown for the annual Speed Street festival, the event came to a close Saturday night without any major problems.
Charlotte-Mecklenburg police said early Sunday that the total number of arrests during the festival was only about 40 percent that of a year ago.
Crystal Emerick, a spokesperson for Speed Street's organizers, said an estimated 400,000 people attended the Food Lion-sponsored event for the three days this year.
This year, Charlotte-Mecklenburg police patrolled the festival under the “extraordinary event” ordinance that was passed in preparation for the Democratic National Convention.
The declaration of the festival as an extraordinary event gave police more power and allowed them to stop visitors from bringing certain prohibited items, mostly objects that could be used as weapons.
Police have declined to say how many officers they planned to have uptown during the three-night festival held in advance of Sunday’s Coca-Cola 600 at Charlotte Motor Speedway.
But police presence was noticeably strong, and that presence extended into the early morning hours Sunday.
Last year's event was associated by many with violent events that happened a few hours after Speed Street closed -- and a couple blocks away from the festival.
Hours after last year’s final night of the event ended, Antwan Smith, 22, was killed and another man injured in a shooting blocks away shortly after 1 a.m. Antonio Amos Thompkins, now 21, was charged with murder.
The shooting followed a night of unrest, which began after the festival ended. Police said young people had flocked to uptown, including some who flashed gang signs and others who ignored police commands to disperse. Officers arrested more than 70 people.
Thursday and Friday’s festivities passed peacefully. Around 9 p.m. Saturday, Maj. Jeff Estes said the police had made few arrests.
“We do have some hours left,” he said, but added that he was pleased with the department’s operational plan to handle the event.
Early Sunday morning, police said they made 44 arrests -- 33 adults and 11 juveniles -- during this year's event. That compares to 104 arrests -- 95 adults and nine juveniles -- in 2011. Most of this year's arrests were misdemeanors, and they included eight arrests on drug-related charges; seven for intoxication and disruptive behavior; and five for disorderly conduct.