Only threat to public safety at Trampled by Turtles was police

by Brian C. Strock - University student

On April 28, Trampled by Turtles put on a Spring Jam kickoff concert that occurred on the St. Paul campus in the Animal Arena (a concrete barn with a stage set up inside). When my friends and I arrived at around 7:30 p.m., we were greeted by a large crowd that had congregated outside the venue, and were told that the venue was “at capacity.”

To me, it appeared that there were as many or more students outside than inside, but there appeared to be enough room inside to accommodate everyone. This was quickly proven to be the case, when the barricades preventing entry were removed and the students outside rushed in to enjoy the music.

When we got inside, we were greeted by a wonderful, energetic bluegrass set by Trampled by Turtles and a respectful, welcoming crowd. Indeed, even after the crowd outside entered the venue there was still room for more people. as a veteran of dozens of live music events, I have seen venues like First Avenue and The Cabooze significantly more crowded.

The gathering was peaceful, and everyone was smiling, dancing and enjoying the music. After about 30 minutes, however, a University of Minnesota police officer took the stage and informed the crowd: “ConcertâÄôs over, time to go.” When he received a chorus of boos in response, we were told that there were “20 cops behind the stage who will push you out if you donâÄôt leave.”

At no point was this response warranted. I saw no one being rowdy, abusive, or in any way agitating. The gathered students were peacefully enjoying an excellent concert by a fantastically entertaining local band, for free, as advertised.

No one was being hurt or acting in a manner that endangered others, and the venue was not dangerously overcrowded. The atmosphere was very respectful.

During the event, the only time I felt that my safety was threatened was when the police officer informed us that we would be removed by force if we did not comply.

This was an entirely overzealous response on the part of the police; at no time was the crowd out of control or presenting personally dangerous conditions.

By immediately threatening to use force as an alternative to compliance, I feel that the University police presence and actions at the event represented the only threat to public safety I experienced during the course of the evening.