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UPDATE: ‘Blarney Blowout’ leads to 55 arrests, police injuries

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Forty-six people — including 43 by Amherst police — were arrested Saturday during “Blarney Blowout” celebrations off-campus. (Photo courtesy Robert Rizzuto, Springfield Republican/MassLive.com)

Update: Monday, March 10, 12 a.m.

Fifty-five people were arrested Saturday during “Blarney Blowout,” an annual St. Patrick’s Day-themed series of drinking parties, that left a number of people with minor injuries, including four police officers, police and university officials said.

Officers from the Amherst Police Department issued dispersal orders, increased police manpower to the area, released pepper spray and shut down bus service and streets near the stretch between Puffton Village and the Townehouses in North Amherst. It took nearly an entire day to quell the rowdy crowds which grew with thousands in attendance.

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Thousands of people gathered for “Blarney Blowout” at different off-campus locations Saturday, including the Brandywine Apartments complex. (Photo courtesy Robert Rizzuto, Springfield Republican/MassLive.com)

APD officers arrested 55 people with at least 18 of those people held on charges of failing to disperse and inciting a riot; at least three others were held on assault and battery with a dangerous weapon charges; and an individual was also charged with breaking and entering. Other charges included disorderly conduct, alcohol violations and assault and battery on a police officer. Police also issued an additional 28 summons.

All of the arrests occurred between 9 a.m. Saturday and 4 a.m. Sunday.

Any University of Massachusetts students arrested in connection with the event will face a sanctions review from the University, whose officials, including Dean of Students Enku Gelaye, warned early last week may result in their expulsion or suspension from the school. The University, which released a statement late Saturday night, said its officials condemn the “unruly behavior” at “Blarney Blowout.”

Officers began responding to calls related to the parties at 10 a.m. At 8 p.m., police were continuing to break up fights, respond to noise complaints and communicate with intoxicated people, according to a statement by the APD.

The UMass Police Department also arrested three people at the event Saturday, according to UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski, who added that because the parties were almost all held off-campus, UMPD officers were acting as more of a “supporting agency” to APD officers. State Police officers were also called in to support the APD in its attempts to break up the crowds.

The first students were arrested on charges of violating public alcohol laws as they were leaving UMass’ campus.

Amherst police broke up a party at the Puffton Village Apartments shortly after 11 a.m. when fights began breaking out, and people began throwing snowballs, cans and bottles into the crowd, the statement said.

At 12:15 p.m., police cleared approximately 4,000 people from the Brandywine Apartments grounds, the statement said, adding that officers issuing dispersal orders were struck by glass bottles, full beer cans and snowballs by members of the crowd.

APD officers broke up a “dangerous and out of control” party at the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house shortly after 1:30 p.m. and were hit with bottles, beer cans, rocks and snowballs, the statement said. Some of the items were thrown from the house’s roof, porch and windows.

Four Amherst police officers received minor injuries from thrown objects and physical fights.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent an email to the campus community on Sunday evening expressing his outrage and disappointment for Saturday’s activities.

“I want to make it unequivocally clear that the University of Massachusetts Amherst condemns the outrageous behavior of those students who acted out without any regard for public safety and the community in which they live,” Subbaswamy wrote. “They have brought shame on our fine university and run the risk of devaluing the college degree that all of our students work so hard to achieve.”

The chancellor added that he and his administration will take the necessary steps to address the incident and they will “redouble … efforts” to avoid future incidents from occurring.

Blaguszewski said that the University is trying to identify whether visitors to UMass and Amherst played a part in instigating “Blarney Blowout.”

Earlier in the week, the University sent an email to undergraduate students and their parents about the consequences of “bad behavior.”

“While the vast majority of UMass Amherst students act responsibly every day – both on campus and in the surrounding communities – for those students who violate the University Code of Student Conduct or the Town of Amherst By-Laws, the consequences will be significant and they may be lasting,” wrote Enku Gelaye, interim vice chancellor for student affairs and campus life in the email.

As part of its preparations for “Blarney Blowout,” the University also sent letters of warning to students who had been disciplined for alcohol-related misconduct within the past year and to students living off-campus who had been cited for noise or nuisance house complaints.

Blaguszewski said that it is “difficult to tell” whether the messaging campaign worked on controlling the crowds, but “we needed to do that.”

Photos courtesy Robert Rizzuto, Springfield Republican/MassLive.com.

Patrick Hoff can be reached at [email protected]

18 Comments

18 Responses to “UPDATE: ‘Blarney Blowout’ leads to 55 arrests, police injuries”

  1. N. on March 9th, 2014 12:47 pm

    It is completely ridiculous how UMass and the other authorities react to student parties and gatherings, and how much it costs us. I’ve never been to one of these famous ‘UMass riots’, but the first-hand accounts that I’ve heard generally seem to agree that things really don’t get ‘bad crazy’ until armies of robocops show up and start attacking people with chemicals and projectile weapons. Of course people react badly to that, it’s a really stupid and heavy-handed move. UMass spent $12 million on a new police station a couple years ago, even though the old one is still standing, and the overtime salary for cops shutting down events like runs into the hundreds of thousands. That’s a lot of money to spend on terrorizing our classmates with paramilitary-style force and locking them up for….what exactly? Partying? There is some kind of a catch 22 going on with freedom of assembly here. Last time I checked it wasn’t against the law to drink if you’re 21, to be in a group of people, in public or on private property. But whenever enough students get together, the cops and admin call it a ‘riot’ and shut it down, causing a riot in the process.

    Where is the evidence of lawbreaking that preceded the police attacks on the gathered students? “Property destruction” – where? Show us. Someone broke a window, set off a sparkler, climbed a tree, tagged a dumpster? Omg, better spend millions of dollars and arrest 50 people for getting a little tipsy on the weekend. Usually when this happens, people get expelled before they even get their day in court. There was a cop on TV yesterday morning saying “we’re going to knock it down before it gets started”…seriously…what? It reminds me of the news from Kiev not long ago, where the protests were peaceful before the police attacked, made everyone outraged with their heavy-handed behavior, and set off violent chaos where even more people were hurt. UMass is way too invested in suppressing its ‘Zoomass’ rep….for gods sake these are normal college kids, they want to party a little now and then, and it’s really stupid to turn it into a riot….

  2. The Dude on March 9th, 2014 3:35 pm

    “N. says” Freedom of Assembly? Really? You should actually GO to the classes instead of just signing up. Did you ever stop to think about, oh, disturbing the peace? There are actually people who live in that area that don’t want to party all day and night or have people being loud. I know, I know, hard to believe for your type but it’s true. Not everyone agrees with your narrow minded view of your perceived “Rights” And your comparison of a bunch of 20-something american kids drinking and listening to “boots and pants” music too loud to that of political unrest in Kiev just shows how ignorant you are. I pity the people that have to interact with you.

  3. The Dude on March 9th, 2014 3:37 pm

    *to

  4. Tricia on March 9th, 2014 4:52 pm

    Your news article is missing an important fact. The number of visitors to Umass this weekend seem to double the population of the campus size. Many colleges started spring break on Friday. There were kids from everywhere who came to UMass on Friday and Saturday to celebrate Blarney Blowout. Visitors were from colleges in new hampshire, maine, rhode island, connecticut, new york, washington DC, Virginia, Pennsylvania, Vermont, Delaware, Indianna, ect. For those putting down UMass students, please know visitors from Ivy Leagues were also walking the streets in Amherst. Amherst could not handle the population of students walking about on a warmer day….even if they were sober. Bottom line…too many visitors descended upon a town that can not handle the population. Next year Umass should not allow visitors.

  5. Dick Conoboy on March 9th, 2014 5:48 pm

    After a riot here in Bellingham WA on 12 Oct 2013, I wrote a piece for NWCitizen on some alternative explanations for causes for these so-called “riots”. Here, as in Amherst, the emphasis seems to assigning blame and responsibility, usually towards elements that are only partially responsible. My piece was therefore entitled “The Bellingham “Riot” – Let’s Expand the Conversation. As expected, few wanted to look at other possible contributing factors after I wrote the following: “I believe this riot happened because the basic components that create these events are those we are teaching our youth. Confrontation. Belligerence. Hyper-masculinity. Misuse of alcohol. Wittingly or not, those are our messages.”

    I concluded with “In order for citizens to have a well-balanced conversation on the incident of 12 October, we must consider the totality of the elements that feed into these kinds of behaviors on the side of the “rioters” AND the city officials, notably our police. Do not misunderstand. This is not an indictment of city hall, the police, the university or those who “rioted,” be they students or other young residents. It is a call to action. It is a call to talk about uncomfortable topics by expanding the conversation.”

    You can read my article in its entirety at: http://www.nwcitizen.com/entry/the-bellingham-riot-lets-expand-the-conversation

  6. Mikel on March 9th, 2014 10:32 pm

    I put some of the blame on the businesses that created this event in order to rake in the bucks now, since kids will be on break on the “real” St Pat’s day. The town needs to get rid of the Blarney Blowout promotions. Is it really worth it to the town?

  7. N. on March 10th, 2014 1:59 am

    “Dude,” it’s pretty dumb to use ad hominems when you have no idea who you’re talking to. But the fact that you’d lump literally all students together makes me think you aren’t one. Calling yourself “dude” isn’t going to fool anyone – anyone who reads this site knows its comments section is often trolled by middle-aged, right-wing alums. And you 100% missed the poin of the Kiev comparison.

  8. M on March 10th, 2014 7:12 am

    N

    How much does UMass an other authorities reacting to these party cost us? You cite hundreds of thousands of dollars? Is that $200K, or $900K? Where did you get your figure? Do you have a citation to share?

    And who is “us”? Is it the taxpayer? The student? The parents of the student?

    What exactly would be your recommendations for police presence (if any) in the case of a public gathering of 4,000 people? (4,000 is the number in the article above).

  9. R on March 10th, 2014 7:57 am

    I am concerned parent of a pre-college daughter. I am concerned on how little freedom of expression and relief of stress by our young college adults, is expected by our local society. Prohibition did not work, neither will trying to control our young adults into acting like something they are not. The majority of college students work hard at their studies and once in a while need to socialize, dance, and yes … party. It does not mean they are rioters. So who is to blame. Organizers … if you plan an event this big:plan for the crowd size with respect for the local citizens of your town. Police … understand young adults are just looking to have some fun and release some stress. However, I do know that some control is needed for those out of control drunks that spoil it for everyone else … yes, we need some control to protect everybody else’s property, rights, freedom of congregation, etc. Students … take some responsibility in keeping your right to party by stopping those “idiots” who spoil the party and take it too far. Us and society …. if we had more realistic drinking age, these “events” would not have to go undercover and would be held in a proper size local instead of a student’s dorm room. Also, if drinking age was reasonable, other student would not hesitate in calling police for help if somebody gets out of control.

  10. Anonymous on March 10th, 2014 11:33 am

    First off, “N,” an “ad hominem” can only take place in a formal argument. Secondly, you are dumber than a brick and you probably need to be locked up.

  11. Albertina on March 10th, 2014 3:29 pm

    Just curious…when did the Blarney Blowout officially start at UMASS Amherst?

  12. Tricia on March 10th, 2014 3:49 pm

    Hi Collegian,
    It might be interesting to you what was said on FOX Boston news channel about UMass by VB. Watch his video and listen to his comments.

  13. boris on March 10th, 2014 4:08 pm

    no problems until police showed up….

  14. Learned on March 10th, 2014 4:34 pm

    None of you were there in the Southwest section of campus in 1986 during the Mets-Red Sox riot, so you can take your little “blowout” and go back to your happy little lives because you’re all Jon Snow… you know nothing.

  15. TC on March 10th, 2014 7:46 pm

    To all human beings involved in the Blarney Blowout: Other topics aside, large drunken mobs almost always lead to serious trouble far beyond vandalism, noise and littering. Rubber bullets and other “non-lethal” projectiles can kill, and have, right here in the Bay State (Google it). Other ways of getting killed include alcohol poisoning, falling off of something you’ve climbed, stumbling in front of a moving vehicle, and having a serious medical emergency that can’t be treated because EMTs can’t locate or get to you in time in a large crowd, or because people think you’re just passed out. When I was a UMass student in the 90’s, students in Orchard Hill began throwing couches off the balconies from several stories up to celebrate a sports victory. So watch out for falling furniture and other school property. And large drunken mobs often lead to fights and sexual assaults. Also, if you see riot police, a good inference is that things are about to escalate. Draw your own conclusions.

  16. N. on March 10th, 2014 8:01 pm

    M, every time the powers that be are hyping up some sports event or campus tradition into the next attack of the barbarian hordes, they email everyone with complaints about how costly the police overtime is. So you really shouldn’t have to look far. Or you could try googling “umass Amherst police station” if you’re interested in that price tag.

    Collegian website mods, disappointed that you are permitting trolling/flaming (comments with no substance or meaning aside from sheer abuse). Is your comment moderation policy available for public view?

  17. Grumpy Old Man on March 10th, 2014 9:04 pm

    Back in my day kids only rioted when the Red Sox LOST. These kids need to take it down a notch.
    Now get off my lawn!

  18. Jake Callahan on March 10th, 2014 9:39 pm

    What I don’t like is what you do to Ireland and Irish heritage. You barf on evrything and turn Amherst into a pigsty and say “Work hard, play hard.” Pay for the bruises you cause police officers and pick up your trash in Brandywine and Pufton Village. You are a disgrace to UMass and to Ireland too.

If you want a picture to show with your comment, go get a gravatar.




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