University of Massachusetts students descended upon an area situated near the Berkshire Dining Commons in Southwest late last night to mark the news of the death of Osama bin Laden with a large impromptu demonstration.
The crowd, which was composed of at least 1,000 people, was vocal at times – with some students chanting and cheering. Members of the University of Massachusetts Police Department gathered at the scene in riot gear, trying to disperse participants and onlookers.
Several students at the scene said they gathered to mark the occasion.
“I’m glad Osama’s dead,” said James Wagner, a student who was waving an American flag in the crowd.
Devin Mallios, also in attendance, said he gathered “because Osama’s dead and we have to celebrate it.”
“This is our last week before finals, so we have to go hard,” Mallios added of the crowd’s sentiment.
Luke Arno, also a UMass student, said he showed up to the scene to “celebrate our commitment to our country.”
“We said we were going to do something, and we did,” said Arno, who noted that bin Laden’s death does not make him happy, because there are still many al-Qaeda members out there.
UMass student Tyler Kowalski credited the gathering to what he considered to be the lack of parties over the weekend.
“This weekend was pretty bad,” said Kowalski. “[It was] like a letdown, so I feel like everyone’s trying to party.”
Members of the crowd could be heard singing along to “The Star Spangled Banner” and “God Bless America.” They also could be heard chanting “U.S.A.”
Additionally, some members of the crowd set off fireworks, while others wrapped trees in the area with toilet paper. And at least two students gathered on the roof of the Berkshire Dining Commons during the demonstration.
UMPD officers arrived on the scene and tried to diffuse the crowd. One officer, dressed in riot gear, could be heard saying to those who gathered: “It’s really time to go home.”
When reached for comment early this morning, Steve Menard, a UMPD dispatcher, said he couldn’t discuss the matter further.
“We don’t have any comment on it now,” he said. “We’re really busy.”
William Perkins can be reached at email@example.com.