Officials plan extra police to prevent weekend riot

University officials are bracing for possible rioting this weekend and held a meeting Tuesday to coordinate additional police manpower.

Gerry Rinehart, associate vice provost for student affairs, said the riot at Minnesota State University-Mankato last weekend “graphically reminded us of last April” and left the University no choice but to prepare.

He said the high-profile University of Michigan football game this weekend also prompted officials not to take chances.

“We simply can’t afford to have another riot,” Rinehart said. “We want students to know that there are going to be a lot of police around.”

Representatives from the University president’s office, University police, the Minnesota Student Association and the Graduate and Professional Student Assembly contributed riot-prevention ideas, Rinehart said.

Greg Hestness, assistant vice president for public safety, said all University police will be on duty, and the University also asked Minneapolis police and the Hennepin County sheriff’s office to contribute officers.

A coordinating meeting today will determine how police will patrol the area, but Hestness said they have been reviewing scenarios from April’s riot following the NCAA hockey championship.

An interactive and visible presence is necessary, Hestness said. “That’s not the message we want to begin with, that we’re expecting misbehavior Ö (but) you’ve also got employees to protect there.”

Rinehart said police will be on rooftops looking for suspicious behavior and any response will be “pretty quick and pretty dramatic.”

He also said students should avoid large groups and parties.

“If you go to watch a riot, you are in a riot,” Rinehart said. “If you begin to see large numbers of students crowding around, you’re in trouble and you better go.”

MSA President Eric Dyer said students should know they can potentially be expelled for just attending the riots, but added students will not be the problem.

“I don’t believe it’s the students we have to worry about,” Dyer said. “I think it’s the greater community.”

Rinehart said a small number of University students are a problem, but he said all students will pay the costs.

“It’s definitely costing money to have extra police presence,” Rinehart said. “It definitely costs students and the University money, and it’s a shame.”