U considers penalties for riot participants

by Maggie Hessel-Mial

Robert Jones, University vice president for campus life, said the riots in Dinkytown early Sunday morning were an “embarrassment” to the student body but declined to comment on whether police officers used appropriate force.

On Monday, Jones said University officials plan to check police reports against University records to see if the 25 people arrested Saturday are students. Jones said officials are considering suspending or expelling people if they committed “egregious violations of the conduct code.”

Jones said the police presence on campus was definitely necessary but said he would need more information before either validating or dismissing student concerns that police used excessive measures to stop rioters.

Students and police officers clashed after the Gophers hockey team won the NCAA National Championship on Saturday night. The clash resulted in property damage in both Dinkytown and Stadium Village and the use of pepper spray and riot sticks by police officers.

“The celebration crossed the line into mob behavior with property damage both on and off campus,” Jones said. “It was destruction to each of us as members of this community.”

University police Capt. Steve Johnson said police used pepper spray because it’s less offensive than other ways of controlling the crowd.

“Of the resources available to us, the chemical aerosol was the least dangerous to officers and the public,” Johnson said.

Paul Lobitz, a sophomore genetics, cell biology and development major, said officers sprayed him and a friend.

Lobitz said officers covered his face from forehead to chin and shot so much pepper spray at him that his friends had to put him in a shower so he could start breathing again.

Because he was intoxicated, yelled an obscenity at police and stopped backing away from police advances, Lobitz said, he could understand why he was sprayed.

“But my friend – when they hit him – he was just trying to pull me back. That made us mad,” Lobitz said. “My friend didn’t say a thing.”

University juniors Matt Ducette and Matt Kramer were both in Dinkytown during the riots.

Kramer said he thought the incident was blown out of proportion when police arrived in riot gear. He said he was involved in the celebration but did not antagonize the police officers.

“I would never throw a bottle,” he said. “I don’t care how many championships we win.”

Ducette said he was at the scene because he was interested in watching what was happening, not because he wanted to get involved.

“There was only a small percentage of people causing problems,” Ducette said. “It seemed like cops took it too far.”

Some students on campus agreed with the administration that the riots were out of control.

“It’s ridiculous. It took away from the win,” said Keita Fukuyama, an Institute of Technology senior who did not see the riots. “People don’t have to do damage to celebrate.”

Minnesota Student Association President Dan Kelly, also a member of The Minnesota Daily Board of Directors, said he has talked to several students who are upset the event happened.

“A small majority tainted the reputation of the rest of us. If an individual trashed someone’s property or harmed another student, there should be serious consequences,” he said.

Kelly said he does not think everyone who was involved should be suspended or expelled.

Nathan Raygor, a College of Liberal Arts junior, said he thought some of the students were out of control, but he questioned the way police tried to control the crowds.

“The argument police gave was they were getting the crowd out of the trafficway. The crowd started in Northrop Mall and the police seemed to be pushing them toward the trafficway,” Raygor said. “The police should have dispersed the crowd. They weren’t dispersing them, they were chasing them.”

Jones said he is encouraging students to come forward with any information on those involved in the acts.

Maggie Hessel-Mial welcomes comments at [email protected]
Travis Reed welcomes comments at [email protected]