- The Washington Times - Friday, April 6, 2001

Whatever one might have imagined occurring in College Park after the University of Marylands defeat to Atlantic Coast Conference rival Duke University, a riot was probably not on the radar screen. Yet that is precisely what occurred when students and their drunken brethren of Terpdom set fires, tore down roads signs, vandalized commercial property and committed practically anything else they darned well pleased, including assaulting police officers and firefighters. And, whats particularly missing from that calamitous picture is that nary an arrest was made.
Thats right, while scores of public safety authorities were either already on the scene or called in during the mayhem, not one officer arrested a single hooligan. Barbs for blame, meanwhile, are spreading like wildfire. College Park authorities say police were too slow to respond. Prince Georges County Police Maj. Roberto Hylton said the 60 officers who did nothing were not responsible, and Chief John Farrell blames the university, students and, unbelievably, their parents.
The fact of the post-game fallout is that students who broke the law or breached school policy should be expelled. Period. Many a college student has been expelled for far lesser offenses than destroying school property. As for the officers who twiddled their thumbs while a reportedly 6,000 people threatened what little peacefulness a college town could have remotely expected during Final Four weekend, they should be taken to the woodshed as well.
By all accounts, College Park was out of control during the March 31 madness. Revelers, in various degrees of alcohol-induced stupor, set bonfires on and off campus, forcing the largest-ever fire response (25 engines and 70 firefighters) in department history. Rioters forced early arrivals to retreat after pelting them with bottles and rocking one fire truck so maddeningly until firefighters were unable to uncoil hoses to extinguish blazes. Police were taunted and assaulted as well. Residents, as you might imagine, were frightened out of their wits.
Town authorities say police were slow to respond. But, frankly, there was no response. An estimated 60 county officers watched the violence. It was part of their strategy, they said. They employed the same strategy in February when Maryland beat its arch-rivals, successfully containing the bonfires to the campus Greek Row. Still, that was February, and that plan worked because of Marylands victory not a Final Four loss. (Even in February UMd. officials had to re-evaluate security because Terps fans assaulted Duke fans during that game.)
However, for Chief Farrell to even suggest that anyone other than his officers and the gremlins of fandom are the culprits is simply appalling. To be sure, those were no mere pranksters in College Park on Saturday. That was an embarrassing display of lawlessness enabled by, of all people, officers sworn to keep the peace.

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