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UMN Riot

Dinkytown Skirmish

by on Apr.11, 2014, under Are you kidding me??, hockey, non-sports, UMN Riot

It wasn’t a riot.

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But it could have been.

The Gopher fans have a history of supporting their hockey team in the championship. They rioted in 2002 and 2003. I was living just off campus in 2003 and decided to stay home. I regretted that, as a photojournalist, ever since. This year as I was leaving the pub I go to every Thursday evening, where I witnessed 40-some people erupt in jubilation when Justin Holl scored the game-winning goal with 0.6 remaining, I saw a number of police vehicles with their lights on heading towards Dinkytown.

I made the decision, around 9:45pm, to head to campus, park somewhere “safe” and head into the danger zone to document the event.

The police were civil, the students… unruly. While it never escalated into what I would call a riot there were a dozen or so that climbed up on top of a squad car and chanted “USA” until a half-dozen of Minneapolis finest fired off bean bag rounds to disperse the students and take back the vehicle.

IMG_1016There were about 200 students in the street when I arrived at 4th Avenue SE and 14th Street SE around 10:00pm. By 10:30pm the police had established a perimeter, redirecting traffic and allowing the students to celebrate. Around 10:45pm the crowd grew to twice that size, with some revelers climbing the stop light outside of Goldy’s Locker Room.

 

By 11:00pm, however, the students were throwing water bottles, firing of bottle rockets and even threw beer and liquor bottles at the police line.

A Minneapolis Police sergeant got on the bull horn at 11:06pm and informed the revelers it was an unlawful gathering and I overheard one officer state that they were waiting for “word from command to clear the streets.”

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Chants of “USA”, “Fuck the Sioux” and “We hate Iowa” came from the group gathered. Students were crowd surfing, more bottles were thrown and nine members of, I believe, Minneapolis’ riot squad had arrived on the scene in an armored vehicle waiting for orders to disengage the party.

One of the local news outlet’s videographers said he had been hit with pepper spray and even arrested during the RNC riots in 2008 but added that “they [the police] are much better prepared, trained and very calm” with the students approaching them. Many were chanting the same statements as earlier, a few were taking photos up close of the officers on the scene (which at this point numbered more than 50) and a few, even, went as far as to pose for selfies.

As they started to push the line through the intersection the MPD PIO came over to me and two camera operators and told us to move out of the way and directed us down 14th towards the retaining line. As they swept through the intersection and arrested a few revelers I decided it was my time to get out of dodge.

On the way out I found the garbage can ablaze that you can see at the top of this post.

Regardless of Saturday’s outcome I fear the worst for Dinkytown. I will be there, with my press credential and gear, but also a bottle of water and (in the car) a change of clothes. University of Minnesota President Eric Kaler sent an email to the entire campus yesterday, before the game on Thursday night, stating that there would be zero tolerance for “destructive behavior”.

There will be 300 officers in Dinkytown on Saturday, regardless of the outcome of the game.

Media Coverage
Pioneer Press Star Tribune
KARE-11
KSTP-TV

 

140410-Riots at UMN – Images by d3photography.com

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