Over several hours Saturday evening and into Sunday morning, more than 500 students took to the 1300 and 1400 blocks of Seventh Street Southeast near the University of Minnesota in a contained party-turned-riot that culminated in heavy police presence and 12 arrests.
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Partying began in the area as early as 9 a.m. coinciding with the annual Spring Jam celebration. People began moving onto the streets early in the afternoon and getting more raucous around 5 p.m., residents in the area said.
Partygoers tore down street signs and trees to fuel fires that crowds had started around 8 p.m., residents said.
People jumped on cars, rode in shopping carts and chanted around the fires as the evening progressed. Partygoers attempted to flip cars sporadically through the evening and harassed drivers attempting to navigate through the area.
Officers first responded to the scene around 7 p.m. or 8 p.m. and met partygoers throwing bottles and rocks, Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia said.
The police regrouped and returned to the area some time later, where at least 500 people had congregated in the streets amid shards of broken glass and fires, Garcia said.
Waves of police clashed with partiers over the course of a few hours, eventually nearly vacating the scene before a new fire started at the same location after midnight.
At that point, police moved back in, containing the fire with the Minneapolis Fire Department before it began raining after 1 a.m., at which time police began leaving the area.
About 70 officers, many clad in riot gear, were at the scene over the course of the night, Garcia said. They used various chemical irritants, including gas and spray — commonly known as tear gas and mace — as well as riot sticks and projectiles, such as foam and marking rounds, for crowd control.
Some partygoers almost immediately submitted to the officers, but many resisted, launching bottles and debris at officers and onto the fires and shooting fireworks toward police.
Many residents took in strangers trying to flee from the officers.
Any potential injuries resulting from the riot were not life-threatening, Garcia said.
“This is a lot of drunk college students that are taking advantage of a good situation,” Garcia said. “I think they might have gotten the message tonight.”
Garcia said both “alcohol and age” were contributing factors to the parties.
“This was a large party that was intent on causing mayhem,” Garcia said. “The way these kids acted [Saturday] night really is going to make it hard for future students to enjoy Spring Jam safely.”
The late cancellation of Spring Jam concert headliner Talib Kweli could have contributed to the parties, University police Chief Greg Hestness said. About 15 University police officers assisted Minneapolis police during the rioting, Hestness said.
In a statement, Jerry Rinehart , University vice provost for student affairs, apologized to residents in the area for what he called “an unacceptable display of lawless behavior.”
“This kind of conduct is not reflective of our student body or the University of Minnesota community,” he said.
—Robert Downs, Devin Henry, Mike Langseth, Karlee Weinmann, Mike Rose and Vadim Lavrusik contributed to this report.
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