U: Cops will be out in force Saturday for hockey title game

President Eric Kaler said that any similar outbreak of misbehavior Saturday “will be met with zero tolerance.”

In response to the rambunctious and at times destructive mayhem that erupted in Dinkytown after the Minnesota Gophers’ NCAA semifinal hockey victory over archrival North Dakota, university President Eric Kaler told students Friday that a substantial law enforcement presence will be in place to stymie a repeat when the team plays Saturday night for the national championship.

Thursday night’s unrest, a milder reprise of the Frozen Four mayhem in 2002 and 2003, drew police in riot gear as Gophers fans converged, with some climbing on light poles and cars and taking selfies as the crowd grew. According to social media reports, some were belligerent toward police officers as they arrived to disperse the crowd.

Minneapolis police said two of its officers were slightly hurt and required medical attention after helping quell the two hours of unrest that also left “an undetermined amount of public and police property” damaged. Nine students were arrested on misdemeanor charges.

“The actions of a few people in Dinkytown last night unfortunately marred the victory of our Gophers men’s hockey team,” Kaler wrote in an e-mail to students. “These actions are unacceptable and must not be repeated.”

Kaler said that any similar outbreak of misbehavior Saturday after Minnesota’s game against Union “will be met with zero tolerance.”

The president said that campus and city police and “other law enforcement from across the metro area” will be on duty “to keep the peace and arrest suspects.”

University Police Chief Greg Hestness said Friday afternoon that “planning for Saturday has been underway for two months.”

In a statement, Minneapolis police said it hopes people “celebrate responsibly and lawfully” after the championship game.

“If celebrations escalate into criminal behavior, the MPD will act to ensure public safety and protect property,” the statement continued. “Anyone told to disperse from an assembly that has been declared unlawful must immediately leave the area. Failure to do so may result in an arrest.”

Hours before Kaler’s e-mail, student Nathan Lyons, who watched dozens clamber on top of a squad car Thursday night, said, “Whether the Gophers win or lose, it’s going to be out of hand.”

Looking ahead to Saturday night, university leaders said Friday that students face the possibility of arrest even if they are doing no more than standing by and watching any unruliness.

“If you are here, you are part of the incident and you are subject to arrest,” Pam Wheelock, vice president for university services, said during a Dinkytown street corner news conference.

Kaler said in his e-mail that if the situation is getting out of hand, “it’s best for you and your friends to leave. In this era of social media, no one is anonymous.”

Nine students were among those arrested, Wheelock said, and they face disciplinary hearings that could result in a range of punishment, from a warning to community service to suspension to expulsion.

At least five of the code’s 21 defined disciplinary offenses could apply: disorderly conduct, stealing or damaging property, disruptive behavior, rioting and committing crimes. The code also cautions that violations, even they occur off campus, can draw university punishment.

Joining Wheelock and others Friday was student body President Mike Schmit, who said he was embarrassed by how his fellow students behaved and pleaded for calm Saturday.

“When the Gophers win the national championship tomorrow night, I encourage you to find a way to celebrate that doesn’t include trashing Dinkytown.”

An amendment to the code in 2003 added rioting specifically in response to the Dinkytown unrest in April, university spokesman Steven Henneberry said. The code was amended again in 2006 to ensure that misbehavior off campus and in connection with university events could also draw punishment, he said.

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