- The Washington Times - Monday, April 15, 2002

Downtown College Park appeared almost back to normal yesterday, but managers of damaged businesses vividly remembered the riots two weeks ago after the University of Maryland's men's basketball team won the national championship.
"I've still got bruises," said Chad Kayser, 30, who was hit by one rioter's 2-by-4 and by others' bricks and stones. He said he was kicked as he tried to protect College Park Bicycles one block off Route 1.
"The police did their best," said Waseem Rasla, 34, manager of Ratsie's Terrapins Eatery at Route 1 and Knox Road, where rioters set a bonfire.
The investigation isn't finished. Prince George's County police have still pictures taken from videotapes showing five males throwing bottles and damaging businesses.
"They haven't been identified yet," said police spokeswoman Cpl. Tammy Sparkman. "When they are, they will be charged."
Although only three of 17 persons arrested are students, regents of the University of Maryland are considering a regulation to expel students who damage property, cause injury or feed an illegal bonfire during any future disturbances.
Expelled students would have to wait three years before applying for readmission to any school in the University of Maryland system, according to the resolution suggested Friday by regent Lance Billingsley.
"We're going to apply significant sanctions on those who step over the line and do things harmful," said University President C.D. Mote, who supports the measure.
None of the 10 persons arrested by University Police was a student. Many witnesses have said that while most of the thousands along Route 1 and Fraternity Row were students, most destruction was caused by nonstudents. The party-crashers came to join the excitement as television screens in the restaurants and drinking establishments showed the Terrapins beating the Indiana Hoosiers 64-52 for the championship.
But at least one College Park shopkeeper said the students were as much a part of the problem as anybody.
"It was predominantly students," Mr. Kayser said. "I was here with the intention of guarding the place."
Students made up most of the rioters who broke about 10 show windows and took more than 30 bikes after that Monday night basketball game, causing more than $50,000 in damage, Mr. Kayser said.
As he tried to head off the demolition, one male hit him across the shoulders with a 2-by-4. Others threw bricks and stones. As Mr. Kayser lay on the ground, he was kicked.
Mr. Kayser said the rioters struck at midnight and completed their mission in 20 minutes.
"I went to the hospital the next day so that I could have a record" of the injuries, Mr. Kayser said.
Contrary to previous reports, Mr. Kayser said the destructive thieves were not members of a gang. However, like previous reports, Mr. Kayser said students helped catch some of the rioters and returned some bicycles.
"About one half of them were recovered in less-than-desirable condition," Mr. Kayser said. He said he remains hopeful that insurance will pay for all the thefts and damage to the 25-year-old business.
"I have to say there certainly were enough police. They just weren't here for me. They weren't in the right place at the right time."
Most police were a block away, where riotous customers had climbed up a pay telephone to the roof of Ratsie's. There, they tore off vents and some of the wooden signs along the edges of the roof. The wooden signs helped fuel the bonfire at the intersection.
Mr. Rasla said about 100 customers were crammed into the small restaurant. They were peaceful and orderly throughout the game. Many of the customers were former students graduates returning to old stomping grounds.
Several were drunk as the game concluded. Some began slamming beer bottles to the floor. Mr. Rasla said he tried to quell the crowd, then, "I went to the roof to make everybody come down."
There, he saw troublemakers trying to pull sign lights loose to throw at police.
"The police did their best," said Mr. Rasla.
The insurance company has yet to assess the damage including the broken ventilation system to determine how much of the repairs will be paid for, Mr. Rasla said.
Across Route 1, plywood still covered one of two front doors of the Subway sandwich shop, and glass crystals still glittered along the door stoop.
That damage was caused the two nights earlier, March 30, after the Terrapins beat the Kansas Jayhawks in the NCAA semifinal.
Subway is waiting for insurance to pay for the repairs, said Rochelle Price, 37, who had left the shop when it closed at midnight. The damage occurred about 1:30 a.m.
"The police did what they could do," said Ms. Price, acknowledging that police were not out in full force that night and could not check all of the thousands of fans.
The bike shop suffered the most damage. College Park officials estimate $10,000 damage to city property on both nights. In 2001, $500,000 damage was caused by bonfire-setting fans after Maryland lost to Duke in the Final Four.

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