UD campus disturbance, arrests echo previous clashes with police, students

UD: Students were warned that violations could result in criminal charges and disciplinary actions, including expulsion.

When a large crowd gathered in the University of Dayton campus area for a weekend party, some revelers overturned a car, sparking at least 6 arrests, a large police presence and a scene that has become familiar over the past decade.

The partiers on Saturday afternoon belatedly were celebrating St. Patrick’s Day because students had been on spring break the week before.

“A large number of people gathered on Lowes Street during the afternoon,” according to a statement from University of Dayton officials.

Most of the people conducted themselves in a peaceful manner, UD officials said.

“At approximately 4:15 p.m., part of the crowd overturned a parked vehicle and got on top of it,” the statement said.

Police officers tried to control the situation, but “bottles, cans and other objects were thrown at them.”

More officers were called to the scene, and police broadcast orders to clear the street, using police cruisers and a loudspeaker, the statement said.

The arrests happened as officers were clearing the street.

University of Dayton officials told this news outlet Sunday evening that UD public safety will confer with the city and county prosecutor offices regarding potential citations or charges for those arrested Saturday.

“The university cannot discuss specific student discipline or medical information because of federal privacy laws,” officials said. “But students were warned before the weekend that violations of university expectations or applicable laws could result in criminal charges, fines and a range of disciplinary actions, including expulsion. We are also aware that a number of people present Saturday were non-students and visitors.”

“While a significant majority of the people on campus Saturday were respectful of our community standards, those that were not put their safety and the safety of others in jeopardy.”

Officials said they appreciate what the university’s law enforcement partners and the first responders who assisted UD Public Safety on Saturday.

The incident was the latest in a series clashes between police and students at the private, Catholic research university. Police have responded to the same area to break up a large disturbance at least six times in the past 10 years, with most of the incidents occurring in March.

On March 10, 2020, police officers from multiple departments responded to the UD campus on Lowes Street when a large crowd formed around 11 p.m. “throwing objects and bottles in the street and at police, and jumping on cars,” UD said at the time.

“Police gave verbal orders to disperse which were ignored,” UD said. “Police initially launched pepper balls, which contain powder with an irritant that disperses quickly, that were unsuccessful in reducing the crowd size.”

Additional Dayton police again gave orders to disperse, and students went back into their housing around 2:15 a.m.

At least one person was reportedly injured by a thrown bottle, UD said.

In 2018, police forced back a crowd celebrating St. Patrick’s Day. In that incident, the crowd threw objects including bottles at police. At the time, the university said the crowd ignored orders from university police to disperse, and several more police agencies were called in to disperse the crowd. No arrests were made in the 2018 incident.

In March 2015, six people were arrested for rioting, disorderly conduct and resisting arrest. One Dayton officer was hurt after he was struck in the head with a full beer can.

That was less chaotic revelry than what happened in March 2014, when police marched down Kiefaber in riot gear as a crowd celebrated a Dayton Flyers victory in the NCAA tournament. In that instance, 32 people were arrested and eight officers were injured.

In 2013, St. Patrick’s Day celebrations turned violent, leading to 24 non-UD students facing criminal charges and another 45 students facing university discipline. Seven of the 24 non-University students were physically arrested with the remainder charged through the courts, mostly for underage drinking, public intoxication and disorderly conduct.

Eleven cars were damaged, and broken glass littered the area after the crowd threw several glass bottles.

That incident also drew response from several police agencies, and prompted a university review of when to schedule Spring Break and whether to allow large gatherings near student housing.

Previous decades also saw similar disturbances, not all of them in March.

In 1995, a Halloween party involving hundreds of University of Dayton students got out of control, resulting in two arrests and 18 citations by campus police for charges ranging from failure to disperse to failure to comply. The party started around midnight in the 300 block of Keifaber Street. It moved to several different locations, as campus authorities moved in to break up crowds and put out fires set in the streets and in trash bins.

In 1993, Dayton police arrested six students after about 1,000 of them gathered at Alberta and Kiefaber streets to celebrate Halloween. The students burned furniture, failed to disperse after Dayton police and firefighters arrived, then threw bottles, stones and other objects.

Initial charges against the arrested students ranged from inciting a riot to resisting arrest.

In March 1992, a crowd of 700 to 900 people gathered Lowes Street, some of them setting fire to trash containers and pieces of furniture dragged out of homes. At least three students were injured, none seriously, in the incidents. Two members of UD’s public safety force were injured: one who was struck in the left elbow by a full can of beer, and one struck in the head by a thrown object.

Both officers were treated at a local hospital and released for the injuries, a university spokeswoman said.

UD police said seven UD students were charged with starting fires, and 12 students were cited for drinking-related violations such as underage drinking and distribution of alcohol to minors. Dayton police told UD officials they arrested four people in connection with the disturbance, three of whom were not UD students, a university spokeswoman said.

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