Shared blame for Dinky riots

Collective poor behavior and a few shameful choices resulted in riots.

Dinkytown erupted in chaos Saturday after the University of Minnesota men’s hockey team advanced to the NCAA final but lost to Union College. While it may be easy to point fingers at students, Dinkytown residents and Gophers hockey fans, we should acknowledge that many others played parts in the riot.

It’s important to realize that there wasn’t a large, determined group of University students causing trouble in Dinkytown on Saturday, but a small group of people that included students.

After Thursday’s celebrations spiraled out of control, police were out in force during and just after the game. Officers traveled in groups, holding riot gear. Dozens of squad cars, buses full of police and even a SWAT truck were parked on curbs or rolling through University-area neighborhoods. This intimidating behavior did little to avoid an “us versus them” mentality, which fueled much of the rioting.

Many bystanders converged in Dinkytown after the game to watch the anticipated riot, document the events on social media or hang out in Dinkytown. Some were passing through on their way home.

When tensions between the few dozen rioters and the 300 police officers on the scene boiled over, those bystanders were swept up in violence they could have avoided if all involved hadn’t been anticipating another riot quite so fervently.

After clearing Dinkytown’s main intersection, police cleared the neighborhood for several blocks around, weaving between houses and firing projectiles indiscriminately at any sign of aggression. While police likely kept people and property safe, they may have also made things much worse for bystanders swept up in the skirmishes outside of Dinkytown.

The media are to blame, too. TV trucks, news crews and reporters descended on Dinkytown during the game, anticipating riots. News helicopters circled overhead. This kind of attention did nothing but further incite the rowdy crowd.

The Minnesota Daily, which had several reporters and photographers on the scene, is implicated here, too. Multiple reporters were caught in nonlethal weapons fire, gaining bruises that illustrate the many sides of Saturday’s riot.

Dinkytown is primarily a student community, and those students must face the ramifications of the riot in their own home. This weekend should be an embarrassment to the University community, but students cannot be the only ones held responsible.