Minnesotans blamed for Madison riot

Koran Addo

Sunday-morning revelers took to the streets of Madison, Wis., to celebrate Halloween weekend.

In what police described as a very large disturbance, about 334 citations were issued for destruction of property and alcohol-related offenses, Madison Police Department spokesman Larry Kamholz said.

Eighty-nine of those citations, or about 27 percent, went to Minnesota residents, he said. This left some officials blaming Minnesotans for the chaos.

According to police, a crowd of about 5,000 gathered around 2 a.m. on the 500 block of State Street in Madison and became violent, breaking store-front windows and throwing bottles at police.

Several officials, including Madison City Council President Mike Verveer and Kamholz, were quoted in news reports saying University students were largely responsible for the destruction.

Although Verveer originally said police told him “practically 90 percent” of those arrested or cited were from Minnesota, he later said the percentage arrested or cited that were Minnesotans is actually much lower.

Verveer said that percentage was so high because out-of-state residents are required to go to the police station for processing, while Wisconsin residents were issued citations and released at the scene.

Not every Madison official blamed Minnesotans for the disturbance. Sandy Torkildson, president of the Greater State Street Business Association in Madison, said Minnesotans are not entirely to blame.

“It is unfortunate and unfair that people from Minnesota are being blamed for the actions of a group of people from all over that drank too much,” Torkildson said.

Associate Vice Provost for Student Affairs Jerry Rinehart said the University of Minnesota has spoken to the University of Wisconsin in an effort to find out what happened.

“If University students got tickets, we want to know who they are,” he said. “We want to collaborate with the University of Wisconsin because the shoe could have very easily been on the other foot.”

The University enacted a new student conduct code in June in response to the Dinkytown riots that took place the last two years after the Gophers men’s hockey team won national championships.

According to the code of conduct, students will be penalized or expelled for participating in riots that occur because of University events.

Students arrested or cited in Madison over the weekend are safe from disciplinary actions from the University, but Rinehart said the information could be used against them if students were to get into trouble at the University.

The University of Wisconsin, the city of Madison and the Madison Police Department spent eight months planning events and security for the weekend in response to the riots that took place last year over Halloween weekend, Kamholz said.

“This year we felt we were adequately prepared, but no matter how many officers we have, we can’t control individuals’ behavior,” Kamholz said.