Rock n' Roll Doggie
Join Date: Jul 2000
Local Time: 11:25 AM
Oh yeah, and here in the state of "Minnesota nice", see how some of the university students celebrated the big win.
After hours of trying to contain rowdy people celebrating the University of Minnesota's national hockey championship Saturday, the Minneapolis police chief said Monday that he told his officers to disperse the crowd that had built a "monstrous fire."
But some university students who were arrested, parents and the student newspaper editor question the level of force police used and who officers targeted.
Chief Robert Olson said he monitored the revelry into early Sunday morning, hoping students would tire and go home.
"But it was close to 3 a.m. and then the fire started getting bigger . . . the smoke was really nasty," he said. "We said: 'That's it. We've got to stop this.' "
Olson praised university revelers who obeyed the laws and his officers, whom he said showed restraint.
While 1,000 or more people took to the streets near the university's Minneapolis campus to celebrate the Gophers' overtime victory, Olson said, a core group of between 150 and 200 revelers was responsible for damaging property, setting fires and lobbing bottles and rocks at officers.
Hennepin County jail records indicate that 24 people were arrested. Five were being held Monday on suspicion of riot while charges were considered. Nineteen were issued tickets on charges of disorderly conduct. Minneapolis police said a 17-year-old Minneapolis boy was also cited with disorderly conduct.
Six Minneapolis police officers were slightly injured, six squad cars and at least 50 other vehicles were damaged, windows were broken, street signs pulled down and trash containers toppled by a roving mob that moved through campus, Dinkytown and fraternity row.
University of Minnesota officials say they may suspend or expel students involved in the violence.
Robert Jones, university vice president for campus life, said Monday that school officials are checking police records against school files to see whether any of the 25 people arrested by Minneapolis police are students. Although officials said it is unclear how many are university students, 14 of those arrested were listed as students in this year's university directory.
Two parents of those arrested said they believed Minneapolis police used excessive force, and the editor of the student newspaper said he has called for a meeting with Olson and Mayor R.T. Rybak to discuss how four of his staff workers were treated by police.
Mike Wereschagin, editor of the Minnesota Daily, said one reporter and three photographers were singled out and sprayed with chemical irritant.
"Journalists were being targeted as if [they had] thrown a bottle at police officers," he said. "They were taking pictures and notes, talking to people; just doing their jobs. And they were not allowed to continue to do their jobs. My concern is the fact they were stopped from doing their jobs by police officers."
As of mid-day Monday, no one had filed a formal complaint with Minneapolis police alleging excessive force by officers. But Olson said that those who believe they were treated unfairly should call the department's internal affairs division.
Josh Boyum, 20, of Rochester, said that he walked with university friends toward the celebration.
He said that the closer they got to Dinkytown, the more he saw people antagonizing officers and throwing things. As they headed back toward a friend's dormitory, they stopped to listen to a group singing the Minnesota Rouser. When others began running from police, he ran, too. Police stopped him.
"I told them I was trying to cooperate," he said. "They threw me up against the wall and tackled me. I saw a kid in front of me get maced while he was already in handcuffs."
Olson said that arrests in such situations often look bad.
"When you are in the middle of a riot situation involving assault, arson and destruction of property, it is never a pretty sight," the chief said. "And arrests . . . in those situations, they are rough, there is no question about it."
At least six students had contacted the University Student Legal Service to set up appointments with attorneys from the university's Office of Student Affairs, attorney Luis Bartolomei said.
"We are treating these cases as our highest priority right now," he said.
It was too early for him to know all of the circumstances surrounding the inquiries, Bartolomei said, but he said he hoped prosecutors would carefully consider what charges to file.
"There is a big difference between a misdemeanor disorderly conduct and a riot charge, which is a felony," he said. "A felony might make them virtually unemployable. So what's the use of coming to college?"
Bartolomei said that he hoped any students charged with a crime who need representation or advice would call the Legal Service office, which is afforded them through student fees.
The Hennepin County attorney has until noon today to decide if it will issue felony-level charges or refer the cases to the Minneapolis city attorney's office for possible misdemeanor charges.
Olson backed off Monday on describing Saturday and Sunday's events as a riot: "I would call it a very large disturbance with a lot of riotous individuals within it."
Olson declined to discuss the preparedness of University of Minnesota police, but Inspector Rich Stanek said he did not think that force adequately planned for the aftermath of the hockey victory.
He said that Minneapolis didn't expect what happened Saturday night. "We didn't anticipate a riot," he said. "I didn't anticipate bonfires, throwing rocks and bottles. We anticipated a busier than average Saturday night, and we planned for that plus."
Eleven officers from the university force -- about 25 percent of the school's police force -- were on duty Saturday night and Sunday morning, said University Police Chief George Aylward, who worked Saturday night.
"You could always do something different next time . . . but I think it worked out relatively well," he said. "We safeguarded property and people. . . .
"If the question is did we do what we should have done, we did."
Aylward said many students came up to him Saturday to apologize for what was happening and said they were embarrassed by the violence.
Dan Kelly, president of the Minnesota Student Association, the student government group at the university, said the damage was done by a minority of the revelers.
"The majority of students celebrated responsibly," he said.
Students who are charged could face penalties under the school's student conduct code that range from required community service to suspension or expulsion, Jones said.
"This type of violence and uncivil behavior will not be tolerated by the university community," he said.
A cost estimate on damage to university property should be available this week, but Jones said the amount would not be "astronomical."