Peaceful St. Paddy’s Day

Except for a brawl, Weekend holiday peaceful

Chico Police Sgt. George Laver reports a peaceful St. Paddy’s Day weekend.

Chico Police Sgt. George Laver reports a peaceful St. Paddy’s Day weekend.

Photo By vic cantu

While there was some fear of a rowdy, three-day St. Patrick’s Day weekend in Chico, the holiday turned out to be tamer than usual, with the exception of a late-night brawl at a downtown bar.

Although St. Patrick’s Day fell on the Sunday of a weekend with beautiful weather, celebrants were better behaved than in recent years, according to the Chico Police Department.

“Thankfully Friday, Saturday and Sunday, March 15 to 17, were very quiet,” said Chico Police Sgt. George Laver.

Whereas arrests for a typical St. Patrick’s Day range from 55-75, this year a police press release shows only 61 arrests for the entire weekend. Nor surprisingly, 27 were arrested on charges of being drunk in public. The next-highest categories included 10 arrests for driving under the influence and nine for drug possession.

Laver could not pinpoint any single cause for the relatively peaceful holiday, but suggested that the timing of Chico State’s and Butte College’s spring break weeks, which started the Monday after St. Patrick’s, most likely played a role. Laver said many students left town earlier in the weekend, including Chico State freshmen, since the campus dormitories closed on Friday, March 15.

Of those arrested, seven were Chico State students, four were from Butte College, 34 were locals and 15 were from out of town.

Laver couldn’t say if the new “Respect Chico” campaign played a significant part. Respect Chico is an educational program that encourages locals and visitors through window signs and a website,, to drink responsibly and respect others and the city. It was launched by the owners of several downtown restaurants and bars in conjunction with the Chico Chamber of Commerce and the Downtown Chico Business Association.

The one black mark on the weekend was a massive fight outside of LaSalles Bar at 229 Broadway on Sunday evening. The brawl involved nearly 100 revelers and LaSalles employees, but resulted in no major injuries.

A sign in the window of LaSalles invites patrons to respect themselves, while another suggests getting their green on for St. Patrick’s Day.

Photo By tom gascoyne

Laver said the melee started inside the bar around midnight when a bouncer escorted a 24-year-old woman outside for being disruptive and intoxicated. Brothers Barry and Steven Sayavong objected to the bouncer’s actions and confronted him, which Laver said prompted the violence.

A Chico police officer two blocks away saw three or four fights in progress and called for backup, said Laver. Soon thereafter, approximately 15 officers from the Chico Police Department, University Police and the Butte County Sheriff’s Office arrived and detained the instigators while keeping the others at bay.

Arrested at the scene were: Dominique Jamaica Nikita Duncansouriya, 24, on charges of being drunk in public and delaying or resisting arrest; Mary Jane Brown Valencia, 23, on a charge of battery; Steven Sayavong, 25, on charges of fighting and challenging to fight in public; and Barry Sayavong, 22, on a charge of battery.

Barry Sayavong is the name of the man initially arrested in connection to the stabbing of former Chico State student body President Joseph Igbineweka in April 2010. Originally charged with a hate crime and attempted murder, Sayavong, a Butte College student, was released from custody and the charges were dropped because of a lack of evidence (See “Rush to judgment,” CN&R April 12, 2012). Igbineweka’s assailant turned out to be Jorge Aguilar Ceja, who was linked to the crime through DNA evidence found on the knife used in the stabbing.

Laver likened the LaSalles brawl to a schoolyard fight that begins when one person pushes another and quickly escalates. In this case drugs or alcohol caused the violence to spread, he said.

“People use these incidents as an excuse to take out their anger or testosterone on others,” he said. “‘I want to punch someone, so I do.’”

Other bars reported fairly mild activity.

Caroline Dabrowa, a server at Bella’s Sports Pub, said the crowds in the bar were slow on Friday and Saturday. “But we were packed on Sunday with lines the whole time,” she said, emphasizing that the patrons were well behaved.

“The only problems we had were two people who passed out in the bathrooms and two who threw up on the tables.”

A manager at The Graduate Restaurant & Bar said St. Patrick’s Day was much slower than last year. “Saturday night was very busy, but Sunday the crowds were definitely slower than in past years,” said restaurant manager Jake Lapp. “Last year our corned-beef-and-cabbage special sold out by 1 p.m., but this year we had leftovers at closing time.”

Laver said the Chico police are grateful for the overall improvement in the holiday-goers’ behavior. “I’m thankful to the public and especially business owners and those who are college-age for keeping this St. Patrick’s Day weekend a safe non-event,” he said.