Terps Gone Wild (or, Smear the Turtle)

March 6th, 2010

Inspired by Maryland fans storm the court, then take to the streets (Maryland Basketball Blog 3/04/10), ‘Unruly’ postgame revelry leads to 28 arrests in College Park (Washington Post 3/05/10), Maryland Basketball Riots: 27 Arrested After Win Over Duke (Huffington Post 3/04/10), Police use pepper spray, horses in clash with students on Route 1, Police respond to brutality allegations (Diamondback 3/04/10), and the University’s press release.

But more insightful than any of the articles are the extensive comments (some choice ones are excerpted below) to the main Diamondback article. I read through every one of them (there were almost 400) to get a sense for what students, alums, and other interested parties were saying. A minority of commenters seemed to revel in the destruction and upheld their right to “blow off steam” every once in a while, and these few were then almost universally condemned by other commenters. The main debate seemed to be between those who were indignant and thought the police had over-reacted, and those who worried about the damage to UMD’s reputation and thought that the rioters had brought the police response on themselves (I’d say it was about a 55-45 split). One of the latter (“Pro Police”) revealed in his final comment that (spoiler alert: skip the rest of this intro if you want to read through the comments yourself and be surprised) he was not only a UMD alum, but had been one of the riot policeman in the line, which he upheld did not use unreasonable force (at least not that he witnessed). So read the poem and quotes below and let me know what you think.

I am neither a student nor alum,

But have a project for which I occasionally to UMD come.

I know from the day that students need to blow off steam,

But I think that riots are a little extreme.

“There are a lot of police out here, but also a damn lot of people are drunk, so you never know.” — Chetan Mehta, senior physics major and statistics minor, before the game. He predicted a 33 percent chance that there’d be a riot.

This chelonian outburst periodically reappears

(I remember it from past years).

Whether celebrating or protesting the Duke game,

The end result is generally the same.

“Jumping and cheering in unison, students amid the mosh ripped out street signs and crowd surfed, and at one point attempted to tip a bus as the driver smiled. The students dispersed initially but then returned to the street before a second swoop pushed students onto Knox Road and into nearby parking lots… At about 12:24 a.m., police made a final push, forcing students out of the parking lots and onto the campus or residential neighborhoods. As students fled, at least one officer near Montgomery Hall fired rubber bullets, but even that show of force did not contain the mayhem. Moments later, a group of students lit fire to a Duke shirt.”

It seems not to matter if they win or lose.

After the game, students fueled by adrenaline (and booze)

Storm the court and then take to the street,

Reveling in victory, or protesting defeat.

“It way exceeded my expectations. I knew we’d be down here partying, but look at this place, we’re running a rampage through Route 1.” — Sophomore business major Kyle Bisciotti

These riots hadn’t happened for the last few years

(They’ve now restarted, it appears).

The last big ones were after the 2001 and 2002 Duke games,

Leaving couches, trees, and trash cans in flames.

“I’ve been to all the men’s riots, and this is even crazier.” — Senior Shelley Avny after 2006 women’s basketball championship riot

Students more recently started to riot after women’s basketball events,

Which in a perverse way success for women’s sports represents.

Compared to the men’s riots, one student said it was even more crazy

(Watch the video below by a wannabe Scorsese).

“Go women!”– Shelley’s friend

Some years it’s better, and some years it’s worse,

Depending on when and how students disperse.

This year wasn’t as bad as 2002,

Possibly because the police were prepared too.

“HELL YEAH MD! THATS HOW WE DO! GO BIG or go home!” – unnamed sophomore 3/04/10 6:22 am

To those who did things you shouldn’t, get over your indignation:

If you want to be treated like responsible adults, stop the depredation.

If you act like criminals, you’ll be treated that way.

What you do is more important than what you say.

“WOOO! YEAH! I ALSO LIKE THINGS” — BlitheringIdiot (in response to comment above) 3/04/10 1:49 pm

(It’s like the scene in Crash when Ludacris and Larenz Tate

White people’s unfair prejudices debate.

Ludacris complains people feel threatened just because they’re black,

And then the two of them commit an armed car-jack.)

“The Marland administration should be more worried about what goes on INSIDE Comcast. The obscene chants, the throwing of objects at players and fans. How Classless. A great university deserves better.” — Carl Williamson, 3/04/10 7:36 pm

The Post’s reference to “unruly” is an understatement,

And  “revelry” seems to be a misstatement.

The crowd started with profane chants during the game

Using the f-bomb their opposition to exclaim.

“the actual spark that started the riot was a kid in a wheelchair who rolled out into the middle of the knox/rt1 intersection and started cheering. go figure.” — Anonymous 3/04/10 2:56 pm

After the win, students were in the mood for celebration

(And a minority, it seems, for agitation).

They poured out onto Route 1

And started to have some raucous fun.

“Everyone needs to chill. we are in college. there will never be a time we can do this again. this is what should be happening. win a game, storm, riot. time to enjoy our youth. i had a great time, and you’re silly and missing out if you are a student and didn’t celebrate. never get another chance. to residents of college park, sorry but this is it. i mean the damn place is called COLLEGE park. move to a NORMAL named neighborhood if you’re worried.” — “Actual college student “Rage” 3/04/10 10:33 am

Rioters pulled down a traffic sign

(Always a bad sign),

And lit trash cans on fire

(Not something to admire).

“I, too, will be clinging to every shred of infancy for as long as I possibly can. Why waste my youth not breaking laws and being a peaceful, constructive member of society while I genuinely pursue an education like some NERD when I could just drink and yell and focus on returning to the womb? Luckily, while I’m in college I’m still not responsible for my own behavior. Once I’m 40 or so, though, people might start getting mad at me for the things I do. (I’ll tell them to back off, though, cuz my dad totally owns a dealership)” – hmmmyes, 3/04/10 1:23 pm

They tried to set a tree ablaze

(Not an act that earns one praise),

And threw 12” ice chunks at police

(Not something that will promote peace).

“Once you’re 40 or so people MIGHT start caring??? oh PLEASE! people care when you start applying for jobs!! how else do you think people get fired? cuz they dont care and they dont do their jobs, they’ll get mad alright but it wont matter since you’ll be gone. that is unless, of course, you plan on living off your daddy’s money till the day you die, in which case please! stay out of sight. you think just cuz your daddy owns a dealership that you wont get into trouble? well, celebrities are bigger than your daddy, certainly bigger than YOU, and hell you see them getting locked up for being irresponsible as well. grow up, get schooled in life baby before you end up dead in some gutter somewhere because you shouldn’t have been held responsible for your actions. (btw, if you rape someone while you’re drunk, ur still held responsible for your actions, so dont go acting like you can’t possibly be responsible for anything when you’re in college.) – Seriously, 3/04/10 5:39 pm

One kid climbed a traffic pole

(That’s when things started to get out of control).

Another burned a Duke t-shirt

(That’s when police began, their authority to assert).

“My right to destroy things whenever I feel too rowdy and inebriated to attempt to control myself TRUMPS any pansy’s supposed “rIgHtS” to live in peace where they choose! Jesus take a f*ing civics course or something!” — NUH UH 3/04/10 7:58 pm

I read through every comment (all 60 pages);

Some of them were really outrageous.

Many were insightful,

And some were delightful.

@NUH UH – You, my friend are an f*ing IDIOT, this post trumps all the other idiotic posts on this site! The worst example of a true IDIOT! You must be kidding me! THIS is what they teach in college civics courses?? Your right to destroy because you get drunk trumps anothers right to live in peace?? God help us all if this is the youth of today’s thinking… F*ing Retard!” — Just an observer, 3/05/10 8: 26 am

To “Just an observer” and “Seriously,”

You need a course on Sarcasm 101 (seriously).

And to you “actual college student RAGE,”

You need to learn to act your age.

“Go ahead and tear up that dump of a town College Park, nobody cares.” — Bring it twerps 3/04/10 10:03 am

Some commenters suggested that since College Park doesn’t have much appeal,

Ripping it up isn’t that big a deal.

That’s like the scene in Rush Hour after the gas station blows up,

And Chris Tucker says “that block was already messed up.”

“Why anyone would choose to live in College Park if they don’t go to the university boggles my mind. The university is the nicest part of College Park, the surrounding areas are creepy and filled with violent crimes. What the students did last night does not even compare to the things the local non-students do on a regular basis. – Alumni, 3/04/10 12:25 pm

For the commenters that worry about getting jobs

And being perceived as rioting slobs,

I’d say that if you get good grades, you’ll probably be fine

(Though if you’re one of those expelled, the effect won’t be so benign).

“You idiots just washed away a decade of image improvements for our school. When we leave here and try to find jobs, don’t think dumb shit like this won’t affect the reputation of the school, and therefore the reputations of each and every one of us.” — Shame on us. at 2010-03-04 07:22 am

For those that didn’t do anything wrong

Except hang around Route 1 too long,

You gotta remember that it’s never smart

To refuse riot police’s instructions to depart.

I just watched your link to the channel 9 story. I still didn’t see anyone get beaten that followed the law and listened to the police. It’s a riot dude. Things can get a little messy in a riot. The police would have loved for the crowd to move on so they would never have to get close enough to have things thrown at them. All that I saw in this video are the stubborn idiots that kept hanging around thinking that the police should politely ask them to leave again and again. –waaaaaaaaahhhhhhhhhh!!!! 3/06/10 7:22 am

I’m not saying the police are always right,

But they seem to have (mostly) been so Wednesday night.

If some of them went overboard,

They should be disciplined by the review board.

“don’t worry. those couple of idiots will get punished if they figure out who it was. anytime force is used, an investigation follows. at least you had one smart cop who was there to pull them off you. those guys might have been enjoying it, but some are just there to keep the peace. also, they couldn’t clear the streets. the dumbasses were just running back around them after they cleared an area and took up their spots again. its on the news, you can check video footage of it if you dont believe me. so when that doesn’t work, where else to turn but violence, though i wont deny that SOME pg cops are violence happy idiots, but that doesn’t make them all such people. don’t stigmatize the poor cops who were there actually trying to help.” Hmm 3/04/10 4:18 pm regarding cops that used excessive force.

The UMD press release referred to the “poor behavior of a few”

(That’s something press releases usually  do)

It said that proven miscreants will be expelled

And further riots will be quelled.

“The University of Maryland has policies that provide the authority, with police documentation and following due process, to suspend or expel a student for riot-related behavior whether or not he or she has been convicted in a criminal court. To that end, the University of Maryland is taking steps to assure that those incidences are fully investigated, documented and, where appropriate, fully addressed by the university’s judicial process.” – University press release

Many commenters suggested something with which I agree

(Whether it will succeed, we’ll have to wait and see):

Arrange a post-game location where students can congregate

(Without much around that they can desecrate).

“The best way to show Duke that we’re better than them, is to act better than them. Right now I feel like I’m comparing a group of elementary schoolers (us) to high schoolers (Duke). They act more mature about their wins or losses, and we run about breaking stuff and create huge scenes. Yes we’re happy, but think about the location to party a bit. The mall would have been fine as long as you didn’t try to break into the buildings. Frat row has always been a great place for large parties, so why not there? Instead we took the two main roads, and flooded them with our “celebration”. If you want to make some sort of tradition, a new way to celebrate wins, plan out a sort of after party for students after games. Talk it out with the cops (very important, as that’s where the flashmob rave failed). They must have prior knowledge of events like that so they don’t mistake it for anything dangerous and shut it down, and also to make sure it doesn’t get out of hand. If anything, have the student councils plan this stuff out.” – Agreed, 3/04/10 4:57 pm

Please give that a try, UMD Administration.

“Way to go guys! The win should have been big news, but no, you had to go and be idiots. Nice way to keep Duke laughing about this campus. What a bunch of asses. It’s not a riot? You all are absolutely sad.” — Dookie Doo 3/04/10 4:40 am

Otherwise, riots will continue to smear the Turtle’s reputation.


Here’s AP/Washington Post video of students “storming the court” after the Terps won the game. Here’s the CBS News report.

Here’s the Channel 9 report, including interviews with students and footage of blood on the ground.

Here’s a long, high quality video (apparently shot by a student) from Youtube. It shoes students taking over Route 1 and ripping down the sign and then the police presence, and one instance of what appeared to be police brutality.

Here’s video from the 2002 riots. This was definitely more out of control. (Warning: There’s a lot of bad language in this.)

Here’s the Crash carjacking scene.

Here’s the “that block was already messed up” scene from the movie Rush Hour.

Here’s your theme music for the day, Bohemian Rhapsody by Queen. Check it out in our Amazon store, or download it for free with the Real Superpass trial offer (click on the link below).

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