Dinky rioters still facing repercussions

Eighteen University students were arrested when mobs swarmed the area after two Frozen Four hockey games.

Barry Lytton

Over the three-day stretch in April when the Gophers made it to the NCAA Frozen Four final and lost the championship game, riots broke out in Dinkytown.

On both nights of the two University of Minnesota men’s hockey games, students and fans flowed through the area, closing down streets and drawing police in riot gear.

Of the 29 people arrested, 18 were University of Minnesota students who faced criminal charges and potential expulsion from the school. About half a dozen University students have since been sanctioned by the school for their involvement in the weekend’s activities.

About half of arrested students sought support from University Student Legal Service, said the office’s senior attorney, Karmen McQuitty.

“They were mostly charged with misdemeanor offenses. … There were a few people charged with felonies,” she said.

She said students’ concern only grew as news coverage and photos of the riots spread online.

“People were really worried about their mug shots being out there and the amount of publicity they’d receive as it relates, of course, to future employment,” she said.

Some students involved were sanctioned for violating the student conduct code, said a University spokesperson on behalf of the Office for Student Conduct and Academic Integrity in an email statement.

“Seven students were found responsible for at least some of the charges against them,” the statement read. “Because of the small number, we are unable to specify the sanctions that were imposed.”

On Thursday, April 10, Minnesota beat North Dakota and the first commotion ensued. Two nights later, after the championship game loss, fans again took to the streets and chanted, threw bottles and swarmed the business district’s main intersection.

Law enforcement — which had been preparing for potential post-game mobs for months — met the crowds on both nights.

By the end of the night Thursday, they had made 10 student arrests. On Saturday, some of the 300 officers present arrested another 19 people. The charges ranged from possession and consumption of liquor by minors to unlawful assembly to fleeing an officer on foot.

University senior Eli Cohen, one of Saturday’s 19 arrestees, was booked at Hennepin County Jail that night.

“I was not facing [police] because my backside was out, and I got spear tackled to the ground by three officers,” he said. “After I was arrested, we were put in the back of a police van for, I’d say, a solid four hours.”

After Cohen’s fingers were printed and he donned an orange jail jumpsuit, he said, he had his mug shot taken — one of the few published by local news outlets.

His arrest was immediately followed by a meeting with OSCAI, which handled the University’s judgment of the Dinkytown riot cases.

Cohen said when he met with school officials, they lectured him about his participation in the melee.

“They pretty much wanted me to know that, in that moment, I wasn’t being arrested as Eli Cohen,” he said. “I was Eli Cohen, University student, and that what I did reflected not only upon myself but on my university.”

Cohen, who is enrolled for the fall semester, said he withdrew from classes last spring and still owes Hennepin County 14 days of community service, on top of 20 more hours for the University.

Though Cohen chose to hire his own attorney for his criminal case, many other student arrestees reached out to USLS, McQuitty said. She said she’s pleased with how her office was able to help them with their legal troubles.

“The cases resolved fairly quickly,” she said.

 

Nick Wicker contributed to this report.