In Defense of the Dinkytown “Riots”

Unless you live under a rock, or are a rock, you’ve probably heard about the so-called “riots” that took place in Dinkytown this weekend. The riots on Thursday and Saturday were directly – maybe indirectly – caused by the Minnesota Gophers Men’s Hockey team winning and losing on each night, respectively.

On both nights, the headline-hungry local media infiltrated the scene as crowds of alcohol-fused college students scampered to see the commotion on the corner of 14th Avenue SE and 4th Street SE.  On both nights, several people were arrested for what the policing community calls “unlawful assembly.”

"They always send the best snaps."

“They always send the best snaps.”

As a full disclaimer, I was present for and observing both gatherings. It is imperative that these events are no longer seen as riots. In fact, they were far from it. The word “riot”, according to Merriam Webster Dictionary, is defined as “a situation in which a large group of people behave in a violent and uncontrolled way”. If you want to see a real riot, look no further than what happened in Ukraine last month. Aside from the quintessential freshman know-it-alls throwing the occasional beer bottle, nobody in Dinkytown behaved violently on either night. The mass of people infiltrating the commercial node was nothing more than a street gathering, caused by corresponding intersection sidewalks reaching a critical mass of pedestrians.

On both nights, the college bars running at maximum capacity emptied after both games. People were either cheering or sulking depending on the night, but most was calm as the sidewalks started becoming more crowded. After that, the sequence of events was similar:

2) After the game, many students head towards the corner of 4th and 14th from the bars. The narrow sidewalks on both streets quickly become filled.

3) Since cars are still allowed through, people wait for the walk signal to cross on the crowded intersections. On Saturday specifically, cops only let a few people cross at a time.

4) A group of inebriated male students, tired of the wait on the sidewalk, jump into the gutters and parking lanes of the street. More people, observing their somewhat belligerent comrades, join in the crowd.

5) Groups of people from all corners fill into the street intersection, and the “riot” mob quickly forms within a matter of seconds. People cheer their successful street invasion, begin taking pictures of the group, send them via Facebook and Snapchat and Instagram and other obscure mobile apps, and invoke the interests of their fellow Gophers sitting at their rentals around the area.

6) About 98% of the people in the crowd sing songs, dance around and capture the rare instance of being able to stand in the middle of a major intersection without vehicles endangering their safety. It is at this moment when the other 2% start causing minor havoc by shooting bottle rockets and climbing stoplights to get a better look. The riot police then come in full mace-possessing, helicopter-wielding force, and the rest is history.

Of course, the blatant, doomsday-ish, in-your-face TV and paper reporters capture and interpret the scene as true history. The rare crowd incites some onlooking, dramatic reporters to claim that the crowd was “nothing like they’ve ever seen“, and lead another to follow some cops as if it was a political revolution. Again, for 98% of the crowd, it was a fun, interesting anomaly to participate in a harmless gathering in the middle of an open road. The 2% of the crowd that wanted to take it to the next level is what caused the cops to react, leading to 29 total arrests in the two nights.

I promise officer, I was just trying to get a better view!

I promise officer, I was just trying to get a better view!

The way that I see it, this rare gathering that incites a metro area to wave its proverbial finger at an entire student base is unwarranted and ignorant. When a large group of people enter a street, it’s instantly called a riot. But think about it –  Isn’t large group of vehicles on a road just called a traffic jam? Why does a gathering of people incite such a different response? Don’t 98% of drivers just go about their normal commute while the 2% cause truly dangerous, life-threatening accidents?

Some people may claim that if the crowd assembled where pedestrians were allowed – Perhaps the Northrop Mall within campus – this would not have happened. I can almost guarantee that troublemaking 2% would incite the same police response that everyone saw in Dinkytown.

In my urban-leaning mind, the real problem lies in the infrastructure provided for pedestrians in the pedestrian-heavy commercial area. The percentage of street that is dedicated to vehicles is simply too high. The rest of the area for pedestrians is too small to hold a peak demand like seen this weekend and frankly, most weekend nights. Why does level of service only apply for vehicles?

At a minimum, city and county officials should invest in expanding the small sidewalks at intersections. There is plenty of space currently for concrete sidewalk bump outs to be built that would help delineate the parking lanes on each street. If officials were more progressive and ambitious, a traffic lane could be removed on 4th to allot more sidewalk space. If truly innovative, sections of 14th Avenue within the commercial district could be converted into a Nicollet-esque pedestrian mall, which would allow people to freely walk in the street on occasions not limited to sports riots.

Overall, many things could have mitigated the street gatherings in a better fashion – restricting the media’s overdramatic representation being one of them – but perhaps the riots would not have happened in the first place to the same extent if people were allowed to walk freely normally. Yes, those few rowdy sports fans would probably still light old couches on fire and cause unnecessary property damage, but the hoop-lah of it all would probably be more subdued. The abnormality of many people forming in Dinkytown would be a normal occurrence on most nights, and would not incite a large portion of the student population to post pictures to social media sites.

Streets.mn is a non-profit and is volunteer run. We rely on your support to keep the servers running. If you value what you read, please consider becoming a member.

56 Responses to In Defense of the Dinkytown “Riots”

  1. MplsJaromir April 14, 2014 at 8:11 am #

    Ugh. These blatant displays of thugery make me cringe.

    When will the leaders of the white community step up and condemn these violent acts. This type of behavior is what happens when the you see the disintegration of the white family unit. The rapidly rising number of white children born out of wedlock is only going to exacerbate the problem.

    • Brian G Hutchins April 14, 2014 at 9:30 am #

      Exactly

    • Tony Hunt
      Tony Hunt April 14, 2014 at 9:59 am #

      White isn’t a “race”, silly, it’s just normal people. #whitesupremecy

    • Anonymous April 14, 2014 at 12:18 pm #

      What the hell does any of what you said have to do with anything that happened this past weekend? read the damn article. the ast majority of students were just out haing a good time and the cops were the ones using unnecessary force and “Exacerbating the problem”. “To protect and serve” my ass.

    • Ben April 14, 2014 at 1:45 pm #

      Being white has absolutely nothing to do with what happened here.
      If you think broken families are the reason behind these gatherings, then A) it’s asinine to restrict your lens to a single race; it’s not something that only plagues whites, and B) if a bunch of angry kids just decided to get together and raise a commotion in the Dinkytown streets, then there’s no way that the cops would have been able to prepare for it, like they would if the real cause was, I don’t know, a national championship game?

      • Tony Hunt
        Tony Hunt April 14, 2014 at 1:50 pm #

        You two clearly don’t understand that his comment is a meta-commentary on the racism at work in how events like this are – and are not – narrated by cultural pundits and the media. You need only wonder how this would’ve been described if it had been a crowd of mostly people of color to see the point.

  2. Matt Steele April 14, 2014 at 9:10 am #

    Truth, Chris. This was mostly a traffic jam. Of people.

  3. Bill Lindeke
    Bill Lindeke April 14, 2014 at 9:22 am #

    Chris, this is the best analysis of this situation I’ve seen. Wider sidewalks make so much sense, and (again) we can look to UW Madison as a great example of a place that has placed people and pedestrians first on their campus and in urban design priorities. Why can’t we do the same here in Minneapolis?

    (because parking blah…)

    You’re probably underestimating how deeply misanthropic the neighborhood, the administration, and Hennepin County have become over the years. There’s a a long history of students protesting and administration-type people going all berzerk in response. (see http://tcsidewalks.blogspot.com/2010/10/obama-on-campus-and-emptiness-of-body.html) The fact that it has taken soooooo long just to get a lousy green bike lane at this intersection (19th & 4th) that has the highest bike traffic volume in the city should be a crime.

    I don’t know about the current president (though his recent quotes aren’t flattering), but past University administrations have placed traffic flow and parking over the needs of young people at the expense of urban vitality.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 14, 2014 at 9:29 am #

      correction: 15th & 4th

      • Sam Newberg
        Sam Newberg April 14, 2014 at 10:00 am #

        And sure enough, the green bike lane doesn’t stop drivers from cutting off cyclists in a dangerous manner, as I witnessed yesterday

  4. Adam Miller
    Adam April 14, 2014 at 9:56 am #

    I’m not sure I’d boil it down to a sidewalk capacity issue, but I do think the policy response to these situations is all wrong, especially on Saturday.

    We live in strange times where people could get a pretty good sense of what was happening either through social media or from constant TV coverage without being present. Anyone paying attention could see that this was nothing more than a bunch of people in a street. So why the baton-wielding and tear-gas firing cops?

    Because, apparently, it’s imperative that these streets be kept clear. So imperative, in fact, that the police on Saturday were more than willing to block them with their own vehicles, armored personnel and horses. It was a victory for law enforcement that there were no kids blocking those imperative-to-be-kept-open streets. Just cops.

    Suffice it to say that I don’t understand why they don’t plan for the mass of people who are going to pour out of those bars and close those streets to traffic, tolerate the crowd unless and until it gets unruly (and no, mooning the cops doesn’t count as sufficiently unruly for a violent response). Police in riot gear, hyped for altercation, do nothing but escalate the situation and, in many cases, are the ones responsible for the violence.

    But perhaps even worse is that the riot cops assembled at the intersection, and those using their horses to force pedestrians off public sidewalks, were aligned for battle against a peaceful mob instead of being on the look out for actual trouble. Just blocks away a small group that can actually be described as rioting tore down a street sign and smashed up a car. Where were those 300 cops? Watching the kids laying in the street.

    Then again, maybe I’m some sort of wild-eyed anarchist, but it really rubs me the wrong way when the cops think they can declare an “assembly” (hmm.. that word seems strangely constitutional for some reason) to be “unlawful.” Sorry, Chief, but the police don’t decide what’s lawful or not. And even if they did, our values must be truly messed up if we the think blocking a street for a few hours is such a grave outrage that it merits violent response.

    • Joseph Totten
      Joseph Totten April 14, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Patrolling in full SWAT gear and armored cars before the game was simply an intimidation technique, actually challenging the students before Saturday…

  5. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg April 14, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Reminds me of Groundskeeper Willie in the Cartridge Family episode of the Simpsons: “Ach! They call this a soccer riot? Come on, boys, let’s take ’em to school!”

  6. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg April 14, 2014 at 9:59 am #

    Sure, Chris, blame the bottle throwing on the freshmen!

  7. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg April 14, 2014 at 10:03 am #

    If University and 4th were both two-way, you could simply close off 4th and 14th to through traffic every weekend night. Then those two streets could be pedestrian-only (and bikes and jitneys) and there would be no problem. Police can arrest anyone who climbs a traffic signal and everyone else has a good time on the street and in the bars.

    Or take away the traffic signal then nobody can climb it in the first place!

  8. Janne Flisrand
    Janne April 14, 2014 at 10:06 am #

    I note that they seem to accommodate similar throngs of pedestrians on both ends of downtown at the end of Twins and Vikings and other sporting events. Does that mean that as long as the crowds aren’t predominated by students, it’s OK for cops to allow throngs to cross the street and make a few cars wait?

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 14, 2014 at 10:36 am #

      Great point. The contrast between the planned accommodation of Vikings fans and U students is striking. Is it because a billionaire doesn’t “own” the U sports franchises, & thus can’t work the back rooms of city hall?

      • Adam Miller
        Adam April 14, 2014 at 10:59 am #

        It’s also because these games were in Philadelphia, so these weren’t kids leaving a single venue holding a lot of people.

        I’m not sure that should make a difference, but it seems to.

        • Anonymous April 14, 2014 at 12:25 pm #

          The bars are all located within an area smaller than the metrodome itself. it would be so simple to have just set up a blockade (as they did) to redirect traffic around dinky and just allow people to walk freely. they wouldn’t even need a cop at every intersection just a couple sitting around in case people start acting out (which there seems to be every weekend anyways) Call it a block party and close the streets. how hard is that?

  9. Tony Hunt
    Tony Hunt April 14, 2014 at 10:07 am #

    I feel as if 14th Ave SE (pretty sure that’s right) from Van Cleve Park to the campus lawn should be nearly entirely given over to pedestrian traffic. And for certain University/4th should lose and entire lane and speeds be dropped; especially with the addition of the light rail.

    • bob April 14, 2014 at 11:32 pm #

      15th ave SE?

  10. Ben April 14, 2014 at 10:34 am #

    I’m not quite sure what you’re argument is here. Is it the media painting the incident “like nothing they have seen before” or the fact that side walks aren’t big enough?

    Either way, I think the real issue here is why do people need to do this in the first place?

    Small sidewalks are not the issue, because if they were, shouldn’t this type of incident be happening every (or almost) every weekend when lots of people take to Dinkytown to enjoy the weekend?

    Sure, the media might not help but if you are an outside observer (someone not taking part in what is happening) all that is visible is a large gathering of people shrouded in uncertainty. THIS is what scares the city, university, media and everyone else. It’s the uncertainty of the situation.

    Did the police need to be out in full force? Probably not, but looking back at years past (2002, 2003, Springjam of 2009) things have gotten out of control. Would you as a police, city or university official take that chance of having things get out of control when something could be done to prevent it?

    None the less, things did, to an extent, get out of control. At least one car, was smashed up pretty bad, a couch was lit on fire and bottles we’re thrown. On paper, this are pretty minor incidents and some didn’t even take place directly where the riots were but, again, you need to view this from a different perspective. If you’re the police, city or university would you take that chance of things getting out of control or would you try to squash any potential outbreak as quickly as possible?

    Now lets ask the question, why do we (as fans) feel the need to partake in situations like this? Why can’t we get drunk and celebrate in the bars or at our houses or on the sidewalks and have a touch of decency and class? There is no need to go crazy every time our team wins (or loses) in a big game of any kind. Yet, that seems to be the standard. Sure, it might be fun but I don’t see why we can’t have fun in more respectful ways.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam April 14, 2014 at 11:10 am #

      Why people need to do what? All leave the bars at the same time? They “need” to do that because the game is over and it’s time to go home.

      But if you mean, “why people need to assemble in groups to celebrate/commiserate?” Maybe the answer is, “because they are people.”

      I think you’ve highlighted the disconnect likely. Some people look at those kids in the street and think, “darn kids, why do they have to cause trouble.” Others look at them and think, “what’s the big deal.”

      I don’t see the big deal.

      To me, the issue isn’t the number of cops, it’s their posture, placement and attitude. They can be staged and prepared to respond if issues develop. They don’t need to be arrayed in battle lines with weapons (batons, tear gas guns, pepper spray and whatever was allegedly leaving welts on those who were shot on Saturday) drawn. That posture is inherently provocative and I fail to see what it accomplishes. Trying to “squash it as quickly as possible” is how things get out of control.

      And yes, some bad things happened. They happened where the police weren’t, in part because they police were out in force elsewhere. How is the lesson of those (minor) bad things happening that what the police did here was right? It’s not. The police handling of this was poor.

      The only thing that would have made it more poor is if they had used yet more violence. Thankfully, they were relatively restrained in their overreaction, but they still overreacted to peacefulness and under-reacted the violence they were too busy to attend to.

      I watched the TV coverage on Saturday, and I followed both situations on Twitter. A tiny handful of people were “out of control,” unless you think standing in an intersection is inherently, “out of control.” I don’t know why you would.

      • Ben April 14, 2014 at 1:36 pm #

        I’m not arguing that the cops weren’t over the top with their “posture, placement and attitude” but I can certainly understand why they were the way they were, which I think most people don’t and this is the perspective I’m trying to understand as well.

        In any situation when hundreds or thousands of people are expected to gather, they have to prepare for the worst, because unfortunately, there are those who take things too far and if things were to spiral out of control, the police need to be prepared. In this case, there was a potential threat to the safety of individuals in and around Dinkytown as well as public property throughout the area. I would argue because of the over-aggressiveness of the police, things were squandered early. You might argue that the police we’re over the top for an otherwise harmless gathering of people and the truth is, we’ll never know; that is a deeper philosophical debate for another time and place. My point is that people need to understand why the police acted the way they did.

        I do disagree however, with your argument that these things happen “because we are people.” Getting together, getting drunk and having a good time is certainly not a big deal and happens all the time but when it causes disruptions or puts people and businesses in potential harm, things do need to be controlled. Sure this was “peaceful” in the sense that nobody was hurt and there wasn’t any major damage but you can’t argue against the fact that we (as people in the area) created an unnecessary level of uncertainty in the eyes of the city, police and university to warrant a strong presence and crackdown when hundreds of people flooded the streets.

        So, I ask, why can’t we get together and celebrate or commiserate a joyous or somber occasion without breaking the law or potentially putting people and things at risk? Why must we even create the threat that things may get out of control in these situations (people jumping on cars, climbing on stop lights, disobeying police when told to leave)?

        • Adam Miller
          Adam April 14, 2014 at 2:46 pm #

          I’m not sure who “most people” are, but I think most people have your attitude: bad things could have happened so the cops needed to be prepared.

          What I’m saying is that the causation runs the other way. The bad things that happened on Saturday, and as often is the case, happened because of the way the police (and the media, city and mayor – those pictures of her with the cops are embarrassing) handled things. Had they treated this as an event full of people, as they do sporting events and open streets events (as others have pointed out), I think there would have been very little danger involved.

          They do not line up in battle lines of riot-gear clad police for those other events, even if they do have some of those resources on standby.

          And I don’t think it’s a philosophical question. I’m certain there is research on it, and while I have not read it, this has been cited in discussions this weekend: http://www.amazon.com/Patterns-Provocation-Police-Public-Disorder/dp/1571812288#

          But we don’t really need broader analysis. We can observe what actually happened. The police escalated a non-violent situation. They reacted to a bunch of kids in the street doing nothing by declaring them engaged in “unlawful assembly,” leading the the obvious college-student response: a demonstration in support of their right to peaceably assemble. Which the cops then reacted to with violence. It was a chain reaction that started with the cops choosing to treat a crowd as a potential riot instead of a crowd.

          As to why people do “this,” I think you again really need to consider what you mean by “this.” People get together in spontaneous crowds because we are social animals. There’s nothing pathological about it. People gather. Doing so is even explicitly constitutionally protected.

          If you mean “why do people riot,” that might be an interesting question, but it has very little to do with what happened at 14th and 4th on Saturday night.

          You also should probably stop assuming that everyone was drunk.

          On Saturday, a bunch of young people did get together to commiserate without putting people or property significantly at risk (asking that no laws be broken is nearly impossible; there are laws everywhere). That low-risk was disrupted by policing that chose to escalate. No one was photographed climbing on stop lights (not sure why that’s such a big deal anyway, but fine). The only car I saw photos and video of being “jumped on” was done so with the obvious participation of its passengers (aside from the many cops standing on their vehicles).

          As for disobeying orders to leave a public place, well, man, I don’t know what to tell you.

        • Chris April 14, 2014 at 11:21 pm #

          Amen

    • Joseph Totten
      Joseph Totten April 14, 2014 at 11:11 am #

      Those incidents were the riots, started when police pushed the peaceful street party into neighborhoods, and started firing tear gas.

  11. Samuel Geer
    Samuel Geer April 14, 2014 at 10:44 am #

    Cool Analysis. I have always had real issues with the way that large, spontaneous urban gatherings like this are handled by the police and media. City government obsession with everything happening through an extended and bureaucratic appeals process undermines the gonzo nature of urban life.

    • Janne Flisrand
      Janne April 14, 2014 at 11:32 am #

      My favorite tweet of the evening came from David Brauer.

      “If we call it Open Streets: Dinkytown will everyone mellow out?”

  12. Erik Hare April 14, 2014 at 12:12 pm #

    Thank you for this firsthand report. There is no reason why the streets need to stay open after a big event like this – traffic can and should be routed around.

    My hometown of St Paul is not perfect, but I recall St Patrick’s Day 2012. It was a sunny 80F saturday, and two hockey games were played at the Xcel center that day. The crowds spilled over into West Seventh. The police closed the street (Minnesota Highway 5) for two blocks and allowed open alcohol. There were no incidents at all and everyone had a great time. The streetsweepers did have to work until 3AM to clear the trash, however.

    Contrast this with the heavy-handed policing in Minneapolis, which certainly must have enraged the crowd. That is clearly the wrong thing to do.

    In this sense, my experience tells me that the police did indeed instigate the riot. Perhaps they should be charged accordingly.

    • Rob Levine April 14, 2014 at 12:44 pm #

      Exactly.

    • C.L. April 14, 2014 at 2:00 pm #

      There are profound differences between the two cities police departments regarding crowd control. Mpls always seems heavy-handed ( As if the police are there to quell something whether it warrants it or not ) St. Paul has a lot of large events ( Grand “ol Day. St. Pat’s, Crashed Ice, etc ) and they seem to rely on the cops whom are present judgement’ ( I.E. don’t show up amped up for confrontation, but rather to ensure a good time within limits.) I think this reflects cultural distinctions between the cities. Look for a mpls fix to this to be a beauracratic, rule based series of over-considerations. After all the city is too big to allow trained officers use there own judgements. Oh, and St. Paul is too small ( or lazy ) to overthink, and beauracratize the issue, clearly… So to back up your point, yes there are clear and noticeable distinctions between the cities regarding crowd control.
      RNC convention was of course an abboration, but I will point out ( I was a lowertown resident then ) the majority of the police force I saw go through “anti-invasion” military like drills in the morning at the Farmers market were suburban or outstate cops looking to make extra cash and use “legitimate force”.

      • Adam Miller
        Adam April 14, 2014 at 2:48 pm #

        There are lot of events in Minneapolis too. There may be a difference between the two cities’ approaches, I don’t know, but the MPD knows how to do crowd control too. For some reason, they won’t do it in Dinkytown.

    • Nick Magrino
      Nick Magrino April 14, 2014 at 4:48 pm #

      Anecdote: On St. Patrick’s Day 2012, I got punched in the balls by a completely blacked out tool while I was standing on West 7th Street with some friends. Good times.

      • Bill Lindeke
        Bill Lindeke April 14, 2014 at 8:41 pm #

        Must have been the “Burnsville!” guy.

  13. Michael April 14, 2014 at 12:52 pm #

    This is what UW-Madison looked like when the basketball team clinched a spot in the Final Four earlier this month. Madison Final Four

    Note the absence of tear-gas and paintball shooting cops…

    • Scott Shaffer
      Scott Shaffer April 14, 2014 at 1:35 pm #

      That’s a really good comparison.

      Add a phalanx of militarized police to a crowd, and people geet scared and angry. Provide ample space for people to celebrate and congregate, and people won’t act lawlessly. Who knew?

      • Froggie April 15, 2014 at 4:32 pm #

        As I noted in my own comment, this isn’t anything new for Dinkytown. But given the spontaneousness of what happened, one could argue that it was a case of students simply spilling out into the nearest location instead of going slightly further to a location that would’ve been more appropriate for such a large crowd.

    • brad April 14, 2014 at 1:38 pm #

      it may also help that State Street is bus/bike-only, and gets closed for events sometimes. wide sidewalks too 😉

      • Joseph Totten
        Joseph Totten April 14, 2014 at 5:37 pm #

        So we should make 4th into a Transit/Pedestrian Mall? Yeah!

  14. Ben April 14, 2014 at 5:49 pm #

    Streets are for cars.

    And our youth is changing that.

    • Dave P April 15, 2014 at 9:22 am #

      As a fore-bearer and participant of the 2003 Dinkytown Hockey Celebration and demonstration for the improvement of the non-motorized experience in Dinkytown, I think that may be an overstatement.

  15. Chris April 14, 2014 at 11:04 pm #

    Seriously….if the cops had not been there and people were injured, or god forbid killed because of even just the few irresponsible drunk underclassmen or even people not attending the U, some of you would be the first ones to ask “where were the cops”…”why weren’t they prepared”…”they heard the rumors, the school asked for their help”…”they should have learned from thurs night that something was going to happen”….what do I pay my taxes for?” I have a right to be protected from the stupidity of drunks that just want to make something happen so they can get on the news….They had to be prepared for every circumstance. They were asked to be prepared. The cops didn’t start out with their riot gear, they were hoping not to use it, but as things began to escalate they needed to be prepared. They put up with a lot of crap and gave a lot of warnings before they moved. Students were asked to not be there by the school, but they showed up anyway.
    I am so tired of people not understanding that all it takes it ONE person to do something that begins a chain reaction of kids doing stupid things cause it is “fun.” Then once that starts, you can’t just say stop…and expect it to happen. So, quit blaming the cops…there is no handbook for how to handle every unique situation, they do their best to handle things with the least amount of damage. Almost all the people arrested were underage drinkers out on the streets thinking this was “fun” to taunt police and see just how much they could do right in front of the cops before the cops reacted. Quit defending them and why don’t you volunteer to help the cops with a plan that will be what you think ideal for the next event. It’s so easy to be the Monday-morning quarterback.
    This may not be a popular view…but as you would say…i have the freedom of speech.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam April 15, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      I don’t think you’re following the discussion. I don’t think anyone is saying that the cops should not have been there. I think people are saying the way the cops went about being there was wrong, and added to any potential problems.

      And I’m sorry, but if you want to participate in this discussion, you might want to get your facts straight. The cops were out in force, in an armored vehicle even, and in riot gear before the game was over on Saturday. Our esteemed mayor even got her picture taken with them.

      It only takes ONE cop to do something that starts a chain reaction because these darn kids are not respecting them enough.

  16. Froggie April 15, 2014 at 11:01 am #

    A few thoughts:

    – Not the first time we’ve had huge throngs of students invading Dinkytown. Won’t be the last.

    – As others have noted, this isn’t a sidewalk capacity issue. The sidewalks could be 3 times their current width and this huge crowd bit still would’ve happened. Evaluating sidewalk width in Dinkytown is a valid thing to pursue, but it should be a post of its own and not included in this “riot” discussion.

    – Though obtaining passes and approvals for large assemblies (which this one arguably was) is still a legal requirement, police could’ve responded to the mess early by directing traffic to use 5th instead. If 5th was also jammed by students, then the cops were justified in restricting access as (between the river, campus, and the railroads), there’s only two local east-west streets east of 15th: 5th, and the 4th/University pair.

    – This just reinforces something I’ve often seen in many areas and organizations (especially my 20 years in the Navy): it only takes one bad apple to spoil the bunch for everyone. In this particular instance, the “2%” mentioned in the article ruined it for everyone else. Minneapolis Police response notwithstanding, the only way this could’ve been avoided would be if the other 98% had policed that 2% themselves.

    • bghutchins April 15, 2014 at 11:07 am #

      Well put.

    • Chris Dease April 16, 2014 at 9:44 am #

      I agree that this is the best senerio…

  17. Cadillac Kolstad April 15, 2014 at 6:19 pm #

    I agree with most of the sentiments that this should be handled in a better, pedestrian friendly way. We do not need to re-build the street to do it. Uses can be shared and all we need are a few well placed barricades. The conflict can be avoided with a simple change in approach.
    Thanks!

    Here is what I have written on the subject:

    The president of the U and the Police get a big epic fail!
    It did not start as a “riot”

    This is what happened in a nutshell – “police riot” is a term for the
    disproportionate use of force by a group of police against a group of
    civilians, commonly where police attack a group of peaceful civilians and/or
    provoke previously peaceful civilians into violence. – from wikipedia.

    The city and the u should prepare for the jubilation . . . PLAN a supervised
    party. Close the streets, remove the cars have a bonfire, BANDS!! Channel this
    energy into a celebration instead of a riot.

    If the city can go to great lengths to facilitate big development in dinkytown
    we can find a way to make a positive out of these victory celebrations.

    The violent and out of control behavior started after police attacked the crowd
    in every instance I witnessed.

    The U of M is one of the biggest student bodies in the world. it is also one of
    the top hockey teams. It is irresponsible to not allow an outlet for all those
    people.

    I’m not a hockey fan but I’m a fan of pretty much any excuse for a party of
    celebration. This should be an annual event we can all be happy with instead of
    a riot and a pointless war on fun. We should have food trucks, t-shirt vendors,
    face painting . . . this could be a revenue generator and a tourist attraction
    for hockey fans! a benefit for hotels, bars restaurants. ETC.

    Instead it’s an embarrassment. We should demand better from our city
    leadership. Look at how they bend over for pro-sports events. Why shouldn’t our
    college teams expect the same?

    We spend billions on stadiums and maximizing profits for corporate teams and
    owners, yet when people want to party in the public street we attack them.

    4th street SE is often shut down by excessive vehicular traffic after games.
    Why is excessive pedestrian traffic treated differently? The approach needs to
    be reversed. Close the street to cars, allow people to celebrate. Stop allowing
    the police to abuse students and dictate the tone for celebrating. This should
    be an annual celebration sanctioned by the city.

    In a pedestrian friendly city, any time a city street is shut down by
    celebrating, jubilant, revellers the police should protect them. We pay for the
    roads and we pay the police. Not the other way around.

    This is a major positive that uptight control freaks are turning into a
    negative. Contrast with the sanctioned partying at Vikings events where the
    street is proactively closed and beer is served.

    We had several tragic murders over the weekends, it is a travesty that so much
    police effort and tax money went into creating a war zone in dinkytown when we
    have real serious problems the force should be focused on.

    Frankly I would like to see the major streets in Dinkytown and West Bank Closed
    to Cars Thursday – Sunday Nights The volume of pedestrians certainly justifies
    this and is commonly practiced in major commercial entertainment areas around
    the country. Austin, Memphis, New Orleans, Seattle, and more.

    • Bill Lindeke
      Bill Lindeke April 18, 2014 at 11:12 am #

      I share your sentiments Cadillac! Our misanthropic campus is a big missed opportunity (though it’s slowly improving).

  18. Sam Newberg
    Sam Newberg April 16, 2014 at 4:49 pm #

    It is worth asking how many people get arrested on an average Saturday night in Dinkytown/the U of M area in general?

  19. cristen lee April 17, 2014 at 2:02 pm #

    You are right that this is an urban problem, but nothing as simple as a widened sidewalk is going to fix it. The real problem is that the DInkytown neighborhood is a “student ghetto” and with it comes all of the issues that you would expect. This is a neighborhood that is 99% students. The housing is completely run down as many college properties are. The students run around this neighborhood every weekend as if they are the only ones inhabiting it. The nuisance behavior that pushes these kinds of incidents are alive and well almost year round. As one of the very few homeowners in DInkytown, there are some very obvious reasons why the riots happened. Why doesn’t it happen in Stadium Village or Northrup mall? It happens here because the houses are in disrepair, lawns are dirt and weeds, and people park in yards. People roam the neighborhood wasted all hours of the night, breaking glass on the sidewalks and knocking over garbage cans. Burnt couches can sit on lawns for weeks if I don’t report it to the city. It is the broken window theory in full effect. The best way to combat these things is by creating a neighborhood that looks and feels cared for. These are the reasons that we should support investments in the neighborhood such as hotels and other new buildings. They are the only infrastructure investments that have happened in Dinkytown in many years. Build a better neighborhood and people may just respect it a bit more,no matter how many crappy beers they’ve downed.

    • Adam Miller
      Adam April 17, 2014 at 10:32 pm #

      Good thing y’all kept that boutique hotel out of there!

      It will be interesting to see what the other new developments do.

      • cristen lee April 18, 2014 at 10:51 am #

        If you are referring to me as ya’ll, you’ve got the wrong person. Not everyone is against development in this neighborhood. Personally, I would take a boutique hotel over Mesa pizza any day.

  20. cristen lee April 18, 2014 at 11:10 am #

    College sports riots and happen in “student ghettos.” They don’t happen in nicer neighborhoods where students live. The Dinkytown neighborhood is a student ghetto. Students don’t feel like real people live here. If the city and university had invested in the neighborhood years ago and helped prevent a neighborhood becoming so out of balance, maybe they wouldn’t feel like they need riot police. Which they didn’t.

  21. Doug Trumm
    Doug Trumm April 20, 2014 at 11:02 pm #

    Cristen, I admire your desire to improve your neighborhood. The university and the city could, and I agree should, do more to invest in the public realm, but private landlords still would be responsible for maintaining and upgrading the properties. And students are still going to be cash strapped and willing to live in rundown housing if it means being close to campus (and lower expectations for maintenance on their part.) So, by tearing down or remodeling all the shabby housing in a grand gesture, we’d be encouraging students to take out more debt to live in the fancier Dinkytown and/or price out the poorer students for the richer ones. Dinkytown will probably gentrify eventually anyway, but using this incident (a case of police/media overreaction, poor pedestrian infrastructure and poor foresight on the city’s part) to argue for gentrification is opportunistic and beside the point I think.

    Also, let’s not call it a “student ghetto.”

  22. Eliza April 21, 2014 at 12:34 pm #

    From where I’m sitting in Orlando we close the main drag through the bar area which also happens to be our central business district basically every Friday and Saturday night between ~ midnight and 3am so the intoxicated club kids can stumble about safely. It’s closed off earlier on Halloween and other popular clubbing holidays.

Note on Comments

streets.mn welcomes opinions from many perspectives. Please refrain from attacking or disparaging others in your comments. streets.mn sees debate as a learning opportunity. Please share your perspective in a respectful manner. View our full comment policy to learn more.

Thanks for commenting on streets.mn!