Gophers fall, fans riot

Police arrested 19 people in a Dinkytown melee Saturday night.

Thursday evening in Dinkytown.

Thursday evening in Dinkytown.

Staff

A riotous crowd filled Dinkytown for the second time in three days Saturday, following the Gophers’ loss in the NCAA Frozen Four final.

Behavior was similar two nights before — when the Gophers men’s hockey team beat North Dakota in the semifinal — but this time, instead of a jubilant crowd, many seemed like they were there to challenge police.

Some threw bottles, others chanted “pigs go home,” and one student ran across the street to moon the line of police. He was quickly tackled and arrested.

After police pushed the initial crowd of several hundred out of Dinkytown, what had escalated into a riot dispersed into skirmishes throughout University of Minnesota-area neighborhoods. Dinkytown was clear by about 1 a.m.

Police spent almost two months preparing for Thursday and Saturday night, recalling hockey riots in 2002 and 2003.

In the 2002 hockey riots, police were criticized for being too aggressive and fueling riotous behavior. Yet, the next year — after deciding to refrain from force as long as possible — they were criticized for failing to keep things under control.

In 2003, rioters lit fires, smashed windows and flipped cars, wreaking havoc throughout Dinkytown and beyond. In that riot, Minneapolis police arrested nearly a dozen people and University police filed more than 40 crime reports and responded to nine arson calls.

In comparison, Saturday was subdued. At least 19 people were arrested and there were two known arson incidents, according to Minneapolis police.

Some attributed the comparatively minimal damage to police preparedness and quick action, while others argued the riot would not have happened — particularly with the Gophers’ loss — were it not for all the hype and intense police presence.

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