The Southwest area mall has long been a place where students can go to hang out, play sports with their friends and it also serves as a convenient common area for students to gather after their favorite sports teams win an exciting game.
In recent campus history, however, the area has also been the site of rioting and altercations with police. Two more events this week added to that history of destructive and rowdy behavior.
On Sunday, the University of Massachusetts Police Department received a call at 9:30 p.m. to respond to the Mall area and provide assistance to another police agency after the Boston Red Sox lost Game 7 of the American League Championship Series and a small crowd gathered.
Five men and one woman were subsequently arrested for charges ranging from disorderly conduct and resisting a police officer making a lawful arrest to a minor being in possession of alcohol.
Another event occurred after the Red Sox fought their way back from a 7-0 deficit to beat the Tampa Bay Rays in Game 5 of the series. A large group of students assembled in the Mall to celebrate.
“The crowd of 250-350 was primarily celebratory,” said UMPD Deputy Chief Patrick Archbald, “[We] obviously want the students to celebrate reasonably.
After about 35 minutes of some crowd surfing and fireworks being set off, the mood changed pretty quickly. Officers from the UMPD, Amherst Police Department and the Mass. State Police moved ahead, arresting the three men and charging them with failure to disperse.
“Typically when students get bored with celebratory chanting and it goes from pushing and shoving and punching and things start coming out of the towers, then we have to go in,” Archibald said.
The mall has been the sight of earlier riots, with one occurring in October of 2004 after the Red Sox beat the Saint Louis Cardinals to win the World Series. Twenty-two people were arrested and charged with disorderly conduct along with failure to disperse. Over 100 officers were on scene that night, as well as a helicopter to monitor the crowd.
“I believe the word has gotten out that we are serious about maintaining order and arresting people when necessary,” UMass Police Chief Barbara O’Connor said after the arrests in 2004.
The Southwest mall in December 2006 wasn’t as peaceful of a scene. After the UMass NCAA I-AA football game against Appalachian State, 2,000 students rioted, lighting fires and breaking windows. Seventy students faced prosecution with five being expelled as of February 2007.
“There’s nothing like it. These are stories to pass on,” said Jonathan Gravallese, a UMass student in 2004.
Adam P. Coulter can be reached firstname.lastname@example.org.