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Saturday, March 8, 2014

March 8, 2014 Disturbances

Based on prior history, the Amherst Police Department implemented a plan to address any large-scale disturbances which traditionally occur on the last Saturday before spring break. The so called, “Blarney Blowout”  is a tradition where large numbers of college-aged people drink heavily and attempt to hold a large off-campus party.   The size and scope of these gatherings has led to many safety and quality of life issues; including violence and fights, injuries, severe alcohol intoxication, sexual assaults, excessive noise, property damage, and violence towards the police and community members.  The Amherst Police Department was staffed with twenty officers, augmented by officers from the University of Massachusetts Police and the Massachusetts State Police.     

By 10:00 AM several thousand people began leaving the UMass Campus and continued to walk north on North Pleasant Street.  Several people were arrested at that time for public alcohol violations.  The crowds entered the Puffton Village Apartment complex where they crowd continued to swell.  By 11:00 the crowd had grown to such capacity that vehicles were unable to pass through the complex.  Several fights had broken out and people began throwing snowballs, can and bottles into the crowds.  The crowd was dispersed by officers. 

At 12:15 PM officers cleared a crowd of approximately four thousand people from the Brandywine Apartment Complex.  Party-goers were involved in the destruction of property including damaging vehicles and destroying light poles.  As officers began to disperse the crowd, officers were pelted and struck with glass bottles, full cans of beer, and snowballs. 

While officers were handling the Brandywine disturbance, a gathering of several thousand people had begun to assemble at the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing Streets.  Officers responded to the area at 1:37 PM where they found that this party had also become dangerous and out of control.  People were congregated inside, around, and on the porches and fire escapes of the Pi Kappa Alpha Fraternity House located at 374 North Pleasant Street.  The streets and yards surrounding the area were also filled with people.  As officers began to disperse the crowd they were again met with glass bottles, full beer cans, rocks, and snowballs being thrown at them.  Some of the items were being thrown from the roof, porch and windows of the house. 

As of 7:30 PM the Amherst Police Department had made forty-three arrests.  Charges include eighteen for failure to disperse and inciting a riot; three for assault with a dangerous weapon; one for breaking & entering; and the remainder to include disorderly conduct; liquor law violations, and assault & battery on police officers. 

Four Amherst Police Officers received minor injuries resulting from thrown objects and taking control of combative arrestees.  One officer received a laceration to his hand due to shattering glass from a thrown bottle.   There was some property damage to town police vehicles, as they appeared to have been scratched and dented.  The use of Oleoresin Capsicum, commonly known as pepper spray was used to respond to the assaultive behavior during the dispersal of the crowds.  The size of the crowds and the assaultive behavior necessitated the closing of several streets while the dispersals were made.
At 8:00 PM this evening officers remain busy throughout the town handling numerous reports of fights, noise, and highly intoxicated individuals.


pauldbrodeur said...

Culpability all around. Town fathers, liquor license holders, UMass administration and students. Accountability and responsibility all around. Dismissal from school for students, suspension of liquor licenses for
holders who encourage such behavior and administration to put teeth into regulations.

Larry Kelley said...

Having covered rowdy student behavior over the last three years with pretty much a microscope, I can conclusively confirm this day was the worst. Ever.

Justin Peterson-New said...

It was, Larry. I'm ashamed that UMass will forever be associated with that kind of behavior. You can have a rowdy good time without violence.........