Officials warn 'zero tolerance' after rowdy Dinkytown crowd

President Eric Kaler warned students against repeating Thursday night's raucous hockey celebrations, which were subdued by riot police.
Minneapolis police officer sprays tear gas at a man in front of Espresso Royale on Thursday evening. People stormed Dinkytown following the Gophers men's hockey semifinal win against North Dakota.
April 11, 2014

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A last-second goal from the Gophers men’s hockey team Thursday night sent Dinkytown into a three-hour frenzy as hundreds of rowdy people flooded the streets following the semifinal win.

Riot-gear clad Minneapolis and University of Minnesota police were there to meet them, lining up and starting to clear the streets soon after it started.

“The actions of a few people in Dinkytown last night unfortunately marred the victory of our Gopher men’s hockey team,” President Eric Kaler wrote in an email to students on Friday afternoon. “These actions are unacceptable and must not be repeated.”

Thursday night was just the semifinal.

The Gophers will take on Union in the NCAA final Saturday. That game, like Thursday’s, will be played in Philadelphia, and the Gophers should be favored.

“It’s the semifinals, so I have no idea what to expect for the finals,” said University architectural design junior Jeff Wilson, who came to Dinkytown from his Stadium Village apartment to watch the crowd.

On Saturday, 300 officers are set to patrol, Vice President for University Services Pamela Wheelock said at a press conference. Overall, officials said they were pleased with the law enforcement collaboration and how quickly they cleared the streets — everything was calm by 1:30 a.m. and the streets were swept by 1:45 a.m..

“We developed the plan with the Minneapolis police department and it’s been our responsibility," University police chief Greg Hestness said. "We’ve been working on it for six weeks to two months when the Gophers started looking good. We’ve done it previous years.”

Following the 2003 hockey championship win, destructive Dinkytown riots broke out. University police filed more than 40 crime reports and responded to nine arson calls and 12 calls about damaged property. Minneapolis police arrested 11 people.

"I think people have been hearing about it in the news. They know what happened in 2002 and 2003 after we won the national championship," Minnesota Student Association President Mike Schmit said. "They want to be a part of history, but I think there are better ways to be a part of history than being known as the class that ruins Dinkytown."

Kaler wrote in his email that any destructive behavior this Saturday will be met with “zero tolerance," and Minneapolis police sent a release warning if "celebrations escalate into criminal behavior, the MPD will act to ensure public safety and protect property."

On Thursday, crowd members jumped on squad cars, climbed light posts and threw bottles at police, leading officers in riot gear to disperse the crowd, occasionally using tear gas and mace. Two Minneapolis police officers were taken to Hennepin County Medical Center for medical attention, according to a release.

Officials arrested ten University students throughout the night, nine were for unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct, one was for underage drinking and public urination. All were released as of Friday afternoon, and all but one posted a $78 bail, according to the Hennepin County Sheriff’s jail roster. 

“It was the violent behavior towards other people and towards officers and the damage to property,” Minneapolis police spokesman John Elder said.

Art senior McKenzie Lagodinski was on her way to the Kitty Cat Klub after having a few beers to watch a performance and, by the end of the night, ended up in the back of a cop car. She was in the middle of the street picking up trash, telling others to do the same. When she confronted police officers about arresting another man, she said an officer pushed her on the ground. Awhile later she saw another woman arrested — "it looked like they were whipping her around like a rag doll" — at which point she started yelling at people how stupid it was to riot over a hockey game.

"I didn't want it to get like crazy out of hand which it already was," Lagodinski said. After drawing yells from other protesters, she turned around to see six or seven officers running at her screaming "unlawful assembly." "Then they tackled me to the ground and got me in handcuffs, and I got kind of beat up, kind of sore," she said. "They were pulling my dreads, I'm like, 'I'm on your side dude.'"

When three or more people gather with intent to disturb the peace or break laws, it’s considered unlawful assembly, according to Minnesota statute. Once declared, police can arrest students for not complying. The University expanded its jurisdiction to include off-campus behavior following the 2003 hockey riots, and, under the Student Conduct Code, punishments could include a warning statement, expulsion or revocation of a degree.

Kaler claimed in an email that “Just being present and watching a riot is, in itself, a violation of the Student Conduct Code.” The conduct code does not actually comment on bystanders, but it does include "refusing the direction of an authorized person" as a disciplinary offense under "rioting." So a person watching wouldn't fall into issue unless he or she does not follow directions to disperse.

Minneapolis police sent a press release Friday similarly stating that anyone told to disperse from an assembly that has been declared unlawful must immediately leave the area, and failure to do so may result in an arrest.

Minnesota senior defenseman Jake Parenteau said it’s important to note the team is still one win away from the title and fans should celebrate in a responsible way.

“We haven’t won the whole thing yet,” he said.

Post-goal celebrations

Thursday’s commotion started just after 10 p.m. on Thursday when senior defenseman Justin Holl netted a goal with 0.6 seconds left, giving the Gophers a win over North Dakota.

Just after 11 p.m., a few people began climbing a light pole near the intersection of 4th Street and 14th Avenue Southeast as a large mob swelled, with some trying to flip a police car, shooting off bottle rockets and crowd-surfing.

Police began using tear gas around 11:15 p.m., and some people remained on the scene into the early hours of Friday morning. A State Patrol helicopter flew overhead, watching the area until around midnight. Wheelock said streets were clear by 1:45 a.m.

Phil Cross, a criminology senior and Espresso Royale barista, said he had to choose between tending to customers and people outside.

“I know tear gas is probably extremely painful, but I didn’t feel like there was a whole lot I could do for them,” he said.

He had a bowl of water ready for anyone sprayed with the chemical.

In more than a year at the coffee shop, Cross said he’s never seen Dinkytown streets so out of hand. He said he thought it was unfortunate that most of the crowd didn’t appear to take police seriously.

University psychology student Shaili Zappa said she watched a man on rollerblades in front of the Library Bar get stopped by officers, put in a headlock and escorted into a squad car.

“He wasn’t really doing anything bad at all,” she said.

Former Gophers defenseman and current member of the NHL’s Washington Capitals Nate Schmidt said the celebrations reflect the state’s passion for the sport. Still, he said it’s important to take precautions.

“I think fans should enjoy themselves,” he said, “but that doesn’t have to come at the [expense] of other people’s safety or the city or the area itself."

-Jessica Lee, Dane Mizutani, Meghan Holden, Cody Nelson and Megan Ryan contributed to this report.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misstated the law enforcement agencies that responded to the unruly celebrations in Dinkytown. University of Minnesota, Minneapolis and state police were present.
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