U, police take riot precautions

With the Gophers favored in the Frozen Four, officials are taking precautions this week.

Cody Nelson

The last time the Gophers men’s hockey team won a national championship, there were riots in Dinkytown. That was in 2003.

As the No. 1-ranked team heads to Philadelphia for the Frozen Four this weekend, the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis police are taking precautions to halt any potential violence by reminding students of consequences, boosting police presence on and around campus and coordinating with neighborhoods.

Vice Provost for Student Affairs and Dean of Students Danita Brown Young said the University’s efforts, which include a door-knocking campaign telling campus-area residents how to protect themselves, are precautionary.

“We’re just really trying to get ahead of it,” she said.

A University-wide email will be sent before the weekend outlining information regarding student behavior, but University police wouldn’t provide specifics about its contents or law enforcement plans for the weekend.

The Gophers take on rival North Dakota on Thursday night. If they win, the team will play in the national championship game on Saturday.

Minneapolis police public information officer John Elder said it’s protocol for police to boost presence and take certain precautions for large events.

Though this weekend’s game is hundreds of miles from Minneapolis, the 2003 Dinkytown riot followed a game played in Buffalo, N.Y.

It’s unclear whether anything will happen if the Gophers win a championship, but Elder said having safeguards is important.

“You plan for the worst, you hope for the best,” he said.

Police in campus-area neighborhoods have already alerted residents to call 911 if they see anything suspicious, Elder said.

On Saturday night of the 2003 riots, University police filed more than 40 crime reports and responded to nine arson calls and 12 calls about damage to property. Minneapolis police arrested 11 people.

In addition to legal consequences, Brown Young reminded students they will face “severe sanctions” if they violate any part of the Student Conduct Code during festivities after this weekend’s games.

If the Gophers pull out a championship this weekend, Brown Young said she hopes students keep their parties safe.

“I’m really hoping and optimistic that we will have a victory and that we know how to celebrate our success with class and dignity and that we’re not disruptive,” she said.

A few campuses nationwide have experienced mass violence in recent weeks, with two prominent incidents following sporting events.

University of Connecticut fans vandalized areas near campus earlier this week after the men’s basketball team won a national championship, leading campus police to make 35 arrests by the morning after the game, the Associated Press reported.

When the University of Arizona’s men’s basketball team lost in the Elite Eight late last month, an AP report said, fans erupted in rioting, with some hurling bottles and firecrackers at police.

A campus festival at Iowa State University, Veishea, was suspended earlier this week when a crowd flipped cars and knocked down two light poles, one of which injured a student, the AP reported.

The most recent riot at the University of Minnesota came during Spring Jam 2009 when more than 500 students took to flipping cars, tearing down signs and starting fires at a party that turned violent near Dinkytown’s Seventh Street Southeast. Police attributed that violence to alcohol, participants’ young ages and festival headliner Talib Kweli’s late
cancellation.

 

Jessica Lee contributed to this report.