- The Washington Times - Wednesday, April 3, 2002

Local authorities yesterday expressed satisfaction with the handling of scores of rioters Monday night in College Park after the University of Maryland won the NCAA basketball championship.
Rioting, looting and fights also erupted at Indiana University which Maryland beat for the title the latest in a series of violent disruptions after college games.
"The good news is, this is the last game of the year," said Maj. Cathy Atwell of the University of Maryland Department of Public Safety.
Maj. Atwell said 27 persons were arrested Monday night and that "a large proportion were non-students."
In Bloomington, Ind., about 30 people were arrested on charges including public intoxication, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct, police said. Four others were charged with battery on a police officer.
The basketball championship riots resembled other post-game disturbances at or near college campuses in the past couple of years. Last year, riots that resulted in injuries and arrests occurred at the University of Arizona, Penn State University and Michigan State University. And more than $500,000 worth of rioting damage occurred in College Park after the Terrapins lost to Duke University in the Final Four.
Prince George's County Fire Chief Ronald Blackwell yesterday said rescue workers responded to 24 calls for burns, breathing trouble and excessive drinking. Eight persons were transported to local hospitals.
College Park City Manager Richard Conti said damage from rioting Monday night and after Saturday's semifinal totaled about $10,000.
"I think the police did a superior job in light of what they anticipated," Maj. Atwell said, adding that much of the disturbance occurred off campus in College Park.
Three dozen Prince George's County police officers outfitted in riot gear briefly faced off against the thousands of fans that poured from several off-campus bars and gathering places onto the sidewalks after the game. Within minutes revelers had torn down a metal barricade erected by police, and officers retreated and let the crowd flow into the street.
Prince George's County Police Chief Gerald Wilson said there were "relatively few people confronting police" and that he permitted the use of pepper spray after the destruction of the police line. "There is a time when enough is enough," he said yesterday.
But it wasn't until after rioters set a bonfire in the intersection that police returned in force wearing body armor and supported by a column of officers on horseback. Police were pelted with bottles, cans and two 4-foot wooden planks intended for the bonfire.
One Maryland state trooper lost two teeth when a bottle hit him in the face. Chief Wilson said the man who threw the bottle was quickly arrested.
Police responded to the assault by firing pepper-spray pellets into the crowd, driving it off Route 1 and down adjacent side streets. Officers were heckled by the crowd as it dwindled, but a small group of firefighters who advanced to extinguish the street fire received cheers.
The students and fans were dispersed by 3:30 a.m. yesterday. Cleanup crews began at 5 a.m., and the streets and sidewalks were back to normal by 9:30 a.m.
Little damage was done to campus or Fraternity Row, Maj. Atwell said, where police allowed a controlled fire.
In Bloomington, there was a similar scene of rioting Monday night. Officers broke up crowds with tear gas, sending hundreds of students and fans from an intersection near the edge of the campus about 1:30 a.m. yesterday.
About 40 people were treated for injuries including burns, cuts and too much alcohol, a Bloomington Hospital official said. Flying debris caused head cuts for two state troopers, who required stitches, and minor injuries to 21 Bloomington officers, officials said.
By 2:30 a.m., most of that crowd had dispersed.
Kent State University sociology professor Jerry M. Lewis said there's a pattern to the riots.
"Unhappily, it's become automatic now. It's what we call a 'celebratory riot,'" he said.
Mr. Lewis, who is writing a book on fan riots, disputed one myth about those who participate in sports riots.
"It's not the falling-down drunks who are doing it," he said. He said most of those who participate are young white males who identify with the athletes and are inspired to perform "feats of skill" to gain approval from their friends.
"We know why they do it, the question is how to prevent it," he said, adding that heavy police involvement can exacerbate a violent reaction.
"Once the police are involved, they become the focal point," he said. "There's nothing you can do about that. You've just got to hope they keep their cool."
This article is based in part on wire service reports.


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