Student claims that undercover police officers confronted him during Super Bowl celebration

The men were dressed in regular clothing and did not show a badge

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Student claims that undercover police officers confronted him during Super Bowl celebration

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

(Jon Asgeirsson/Daily Collegian)

By Irina Costache, Assistant News Editor

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Following the New England Patriots’ 13-3 Super Bowl victory over the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday night, a crowd of students gathered in Southwest Residential Area at the University of Massachusetts to celebrate.

UMass police estimated that the crowd of students totaled around 3,000 – supposedly greater than last year’s Super Bowl crowd and greater than the amount of students celebrating after the Boston Red Sox’s 2018 World Series win.

Freshman economics major Tobias Tenenbaum claimed that he was allegedly approached by undercover police during the gathering.

Tenenbaum said, “I was in the riot when the police started kicking people out. During that time there were toilet paper rolls being thrown. I found a piece of toilet paper roll on the ground, so I launched it in the air, completely harmless. Once I threw it, I was approached by a man wearing a hoodie and jeans who blended well into the crowd. He grabbed my right arm, shoved me out of the crowd and told me he was a cop. Shortly after, two other men came, one who grabbed my left arm and the other who was watching.”

Tenenbaum continued, “They took me close to the entrance of the Washington building and the cop who was walking alongside me pulled out a video recorder and just started recording me. After they asked me for my name and where I lived, they told me to leave and go back to my dorm and that is what I did. At no point did they show me a badge or anything to prove they were cops, so I didn’t know if I was being detained by the police or being pranked.”

He said that the three men who approached him looked to be in their 40s, and that the second and third men were also dressed in regular clothing, one wearing a white T-shirt and jeans and the other wearing a hoodie and jeans.

Mary Dettloff, the deputy director of UMass News and Media Relations, declined to comment when asked whether undercover police officers were at the celebration in Southwest.

Other students also commented on their experience, noting that there were individuals jumping, climbing on trees and crowd surfing and there was the “burning of a plant,” according to Rachel Jansen, a biochemistry and molecular biology major.

“It was fine,” she said. “No one really knew what was going on…And then there was a lot of running at the end.”

Sashrika Saini, another biochemistry and molecular biology major who attended the gathering, said, “We were near the tunnel, and then there was a stampede of people behind us…so we started running but we didn’t really know why.”

Some students, however, chose not to attend the celebration. Quinn Stangler, a mathematics major, said “The game was uneventful and so it wasn’t surprising or exciting when they won.”

“I think people didn’t really have much to celebrate because they could see [the win] coming,” said Jesica Quinones, a computer science major.

According to Executive Director of Strategic Communications for UMass News and Media Relations, Ed Blaguszewski, there was only one head injury and two hand injuries during the celebration.

Irina Costache can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @irinaacostache.