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73 arrested at Massachusetts pre-St. Pat's blowout



AMHERST, Mass. (AP) - A pre-St. Patrick's Day celebration near the flagship campus of the University of Massachusetts spiraled out of control, pitting police in riot gear against thousands of drunken and unruly revelers at the annual "Blarney Blowout." There were more than 70 arrests and four officers were injured in the clashes that included some students throwing beer bottles, cans and snowballs, officials said.

Amherst police said early Sunday that 73 people had been arrested after authorities spent most of the day Saturday attempting to disperse several large gathering around the UMass campus for the party traditionally held the Saturday before spring break. The partying carried through Saturday evening into early Sunday, and Amherst Police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen said in a statement that police were busy with numerous reports of fights, noise and highly intoxicated individuals.

Gundersen called the daylong partying "extremely disturbing and unsafe."

"Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness," Gundersen told The Republican in Springfield. "It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous."

UMass denounced the "unruly behavior" Saturday and spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said students who were arrested will be reviewed under the school's code of conduct and that sanctions could include suspension or expulsion.

The size and scope of the gatherings have led to violence and fights, injuries, severe alcohol intoxication, sexual assaults, excessive noise, property damage, and violence toward the police and community members, police said.

Most of the arrests came at an off-campus apartment complex, where large crowds began gathering Saturday morning for the annual event, which was started by bars to allow the students to celebrate the holiday before their spring break begins this week.

Police from the city, university and state troopers in riot gear converged on a crowd of about 4,000 people at an apartment complex shortly after noon, police said. Authorities said there were acts of destruction of property and, as officers began to disperse the crowd, they were pelted with glass bottles, beer cans and snowballs.

After quieting the disturbance at the apartment complex, several thousand people assembled near a frat house. That gathering became dangerous and out of control, officials said, and when officers tried to clear the crowd they again faced people throwing bottles, rocks, cans and snowballs.

Police say pepper spray was used to disperse the crowd because of the size and "assaultive behavior."

Three officers were hurt when they were hit by bottles and one was injured while attempting to make an arrest, Gundersen said. None of the injuries required serious treatment.

Police say charges ranged from inciting to riot and failing to disperse to disorderly conduct, liquor law violations and assault and battery on officers. They said early Sunday some of those arrested had been released on bail, while others were held, depending on charges.

The university had warned students earlier this week that police would have an increased presence around town Saturday, especially after several people were arrested at last year's "Blarney Blowout." Letters were also sent directly to students disciplined in the last year for alcohol-related misconduct.

Amherst Capt. Christopher Pronovost described the day as "mayhem" to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.

"This can't be in any way, shape or form be characterized as a party," he said. "This is destruction of property (and) assaultive behavior."

Collecting bottles and cans around the scene of the mayhem Saturday night, Amherst resident Raul Colon told the Gazette that the day's events looked like "a revolution, like in the countries that have revolutions between the students and the government."

Gundersen said that numerous participants in the revelry were also injured.

Other colleges across the country have gone on high alert around St. Patrick's Day to deal with alcohol-fueled students. At Penn State, the school paid licensed liquor establishments to stay closed this month during the unofficial drinking holiday known as State Patty's Day for the second year in a row.

State College, Pa., police Chief Tom King said that the strategy, along with a fraternity ban on parties, helped lead to a 75 percent decrease in arrests and citations this year compared to 2011 - the fake holiday's heyday.

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AMERICAN CONST. March 08 2014 at 10:03 PM

keep the little bastards locked up the whole spring break then let them out, ho yes and pay for damages.

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
skydrill1 AMERICAN CONST. March 08 2014 at 10:25 PM

Excellant idea!!!

Flag Reply +1 rate up
LewTag March 08 2014 at 10:24 PM

There are too many students in colleges who don't belong there while many deserving students cannot afford it....in my view all these rioters should be expelled...permanently....

Flag Reply +9 rate up
1 reply
jejozi LewTag March 08 2014 at 10:30 PM

Yes, let's punish them for the rest of the their lives for a mistake they made in college. Any other brilliant ideas?

Flag Reply +1 rate up
2 replies
faturism jejozi March 08 2014 at 10:43 PM

Yes , as a matter of fact I do. Make them pay (with their beer money?) for the damages, extra cops, etc.
College is NOT a right, it's a privilege that should be appreciated.

Flag +9 rate up
labroadt jejozi March 08 2014 at 10:58 PM

Brilliant idea---hold them responsible.

Flag +2 rate up
kostas March 08 2014 at 9:59 PM

Some people ruin it for every one,

Flag Reply +5 rate up
williambeasy March 08 2014 at 10:21 PM

If only you could predict the equipment needed for riot control. You never know when it will be Molotov cocktails, crossbows, slingshots and ball bearings, up to and including firearms. You must go expecting the worst and hoping for the best. Cool heads usually prevail.

Flag Reply +5 rate up
irmarcus March 08 2014 at 10:00 PM

Give the students with a job a break, the others can pick up dogcrap and clean up freeway garbage, drug test the lot and take away their scholarships. Deport the illegals, imprison the felons and we all win.

Flag Reply +6 rate up
2 replies
skydrill1 irmarcus March 08 2014 at 10:25 PM

Another excellant comment. I agree 100%.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
faturism irmarcus March 08 2014 at 10:52 PM

Whoa, that's what I'm talking about

f&f

Flag Reply +1 rate up
junelee0319 March 08 2014 at 10:00 PM

These are the young educated - LOL - individuals

Flag Reply +6 rate up
ken2755 March 08 2014 at 9:57 PM

Damn college kids!

Flag Reply +4 rate up
joeypad March 08 2014 at 9:58 PM

youth of america and the future leaders..what ahos

Flag Reply +7 rate up
Dwayne March 10 2014 at 2:38 AM

IT SEEMS THAT LAW ENFORCEMENT WAS PREPARED & DID AS MUCH AS POSSIBLE TO MINIMIZE INJURIES AND TOTAL CHAOS. ANYONE CAN GET OUTOF CONTROL WHILE UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF ALCOHOL AND ILLEGAL DRUGS (IF THEY WERE USED) AND THE COMBINATION I'M SURE INCREASES THE RISK OF VIOLENT BEHAVIOR. TOO MANY STUDENTS DO NOT UNDERSTAND THAT WHILE ONE IS INTOXICATED SEX IS CONSIDERED RAPE.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
dunwoodymikey March 08 2014 at 10:26 PM

Children of privilege behaving badly.

Flag Reply +10 rate up
1 reply
jejozi dunwoodymikey March 08 2014 at 10:32 PM

You really think college students are from privileged families? They're just a bunch of idiot kids.

Flag Reply +1 rate up
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