Facing another night of raucous Gophers hockey fans, Minneapolis police turned out in force to clear the streets of Dinkytown after the NCAA title game Saturday night, making 19 arrests and firing paint pellets at a sometimes unruly crowd.
After the Gophers lost 7-4 to Union College, dozens of disappointed fans tried to take over the intersection of 4th Street and 14th Avenue SE., the scene of a rowdy celebration Thursday.
Police, on horses, on bikes and in riot gear, pushed scores of people down 14th Avenue in an attempt to empty the streets, pushing the students elsewhere.
One man who mooned officers was knocked to the ground, handcuffed and taken away. Two known incidents of arson were reported, along with an unknown amount of property damage, police said. No one from law enforcement was injured.
As Dinkytown began to calm down late Saturday, police were dealing with people in the surrounding neighborhoods. But shortly after midnight, authorities were beginning to leave the area and traffic was starting to move again.
Minneapolis Police Chief Janeé Harteau said her officers were ordering people to disperse. “Technically, everyone here could be arrested,” she said.
But Tommy Dahl, one of the many on the street after the game, took issue. “I’m exercising my rights. I can stand here and watch this.”
The running confrontations moved from street to street as students first massed at an intersection, followed by police on foot and horseback. The officers would then move down the street en masse, shouting at the students to disperse while occasionally firing paintball pellets to mark those causing trouble.
“It was just too much, just unnecessary,” said a student who wouldn’t give his name for fear that he would face university sanctions. “I saw one guy down on the ground, and cops just swarmed him.”
“This is crazy,” said Michael Dziedzic, who walked out of a sorority formal and into a street scene that featured police horses and officers carrying batons and wearing riot gear. Overhead a State Patrol helicopter buzzed over Dinkytown. The occasional bangs of police paintball guns could be heard as officers confronted groups.
“It’s pretty cool seeing this many people come together, but kind of scary that there are, you know, police,” Dziedzic said.
Before midnight, crowds were gathering near 6th Street and 15th Avenue outside apartment complexes and in their cars until police fired two explosive-type devices.
Officers moved in toward 15th Avenue to prevent anyone from going toward the homes in the area. People, no more than 100, scattered after police moved in, with some in the crowd yelling, “We’re going to get shot.”
A promise delivered
University officials and Minneapolis police delivered on their promise of a robust police presence in Dinkytown after celebrations spiraled out of control on Thursday night.
And as crowds gathered and screamed in the streets, they were outnumbered by those who watched from the sidewalks, many with smartphones at the ready.
Police preparations began hours earlier. Parking meters were shut down, and any cars left behind were towed from the main commercial streets. A portable police camera was set up near 4th and 14th, the intersection where on Thursday jubilant fans overran a police cruiser. An unmarked police SUV roamed the streets
Harteau and Minneapolis Mayor Betsy Hodges were on the street as the game wrapped up, urging calm.
Reason for second thoughts
Police and university officials repeatedly warned that their patience could be more limited Saturday night.
“If you are here you are part of the incident and subject to arrest,” said the U’s Vice President for University Services Pam Wheelock, speaking at a news conference Friday afternoon.
In a statement, the Minneapolis police said anyone told to leave a gathering that’s been declared unlawful could face arrest if they refuse.
In an e-mail to students, university President Eric Kaler said 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.”
Standing at the spot where two days earlier riot police had confronted bottle-throwing students, Nicole Rodgers said she and her friends hadn’t decided before the game on what they were going to do Saturday night.
“You can’t stop anyone,” Rodgers said as she waited for her friends to pick her up.
If something was going on in Dinkytown?
“If people want to party, they’re going to party,” she said.