Post-Super Bowl disturbance being reviewed on film by UMPD

By Katie Landeck

The post-Super Bowl gathering that took place in Southwest Residential Area on Sunday was caught on video camera and is being reviewed by University of Massachusetts Police, said UMPD Deputy Chief Patrick Archbald.

UMass police officers, in conjunction with Amherst and State police, issued a dispersal order 13 minutes into the “disturbance” after fights began to break out, Archbald said. Moments before, a man climbed into a tree and another man climbed onto the roof of Berkshire, he said.

“This all took us somewhat by surprise because fights began to break out in the crowd,” said Archbald.

At 10:14 p.m., police officers in riot gear moved in using flash bang devices – designed to grab people’s attention – followed by pepper balls and smoke bombs. According to Archbald, police did not use these devices until after Archbald had issued a dispersal warning three times via a loud speaker.

Despite student reports, Archbald said that the police did not use pellet guns or tear gas.

“We do not own pellet guns,” said Archbald. He continued, “We’re not looking to hurt anybody, we’re looking to influence people’s decision-making and create distance.”

Archbald noted that it was the “shortest period of time between everyone coming out and my making the dispersal order.” He said that UMPD was prepared to wait longer before moving in, but due to the violent behavior being demonstrated felt that they had no choice but to break it up.

“We would have stood there for an hour, as people did their thing,” said Archbald. “The Chief of Police Johnny Whitehead made the decision based on, are people going to get hurt. Is someone going to hurt themselves, kill themselves. We have a responsibility to everyone.”

It took the crowd 90 minutes to disperse.

Police will be “seriously” reviewing videos of the disturbance and Archbald expects that more people will be charged.

“If you were there, you don’t need to lose sleep over police hunting you down,” he said. “[We are looking for] anyone exhibiting any violence towards others. There was an attempt to turn a car over and we are aggressively trying to and have identified some of those people.”

Despite the risky behavior, there are no reports of anyone being taken to the hospital and the only reported damage was a broken window in Prince, according to Archbald.

“It was a disturbance, not a riot,” said Archbald.

“The fact that no one was injured is very important to keep in mind,” he added, who recalled the riot in 2006 where “ambulances were rushing all over the place.”

Archbald was however, “disappointed” with the student response as he had hoped that campaign posters, speaking one on one with students, positive messaging in the Collegian and the Daily Hampshire Gazette and their Twitter and Facebook messaging would prevent a disturbance.

“It’s very disappointing. Some people take it as a badge of honor that we have disturbances,” said Archbald.

UMPD is looking into whether or not leaving the Dining Commons open for the game contributed to the disruption.

Katie Landeck can be reached at [email protected], and Steffi Porter can be reached at [email protected].