Riots Mar Celebration of UMD Women's
Capital News Service
Wednesday, April 5, 2006
COLLEGE PARK, Md. - University of Maryland students and fans clashed with police in riot gear
following the school's victory in the women's basketball national title game
late Tuesday night, echoing unruly celebrations associated with the men's team
in recent years.
Terrapin fans flooded downtown College Park immediately following the team's
78-75 overtime win over archnemesis Duke University in the National Collegiate
Athletic Association championship, setting bonfires, uprooting road signs and
hurling bottles at police, who used pepper spray to disperse the crowd. No one
was arrested, but a woman was seriously injured in a hit-and-run accident,
Prince George's County Police said.
"This is the University of Maryland, and it's not the first time this has
happened," said Cpl. Clinton Copeland, a County Police spokesman. "This seems to
be the tradition. The university is going to have to look into it, but that's up
In 2002, riots racked post-game celebrations as the Maryland men's basketball
team ascended to the national championship. Eighteen people, none of whom were
students, were arrested. A year earlier, a bonfire set by fans following a loss
to Duke in the Final Four caused $500,000 in damage.
The riots occurred only a day after the University Senate passed a new policy
allowing the university to expel students for off-campus rioting, but the policy
has yet to be signed by university President C. Dan Mote Jr. Previously, only
students convicted of a crime could be disciplined by the university for
The Prince George's County Fire Department reported a half-dozen fires,
including a burned chair at the 7500 block of Dickinson Street, said department
spokesman Mark Brady.
Maj. Cathy Atwell, a University Police spokeswoman, said there were no
reports of property damage.
Atwell said she was not surprised that fans flocked to Route 1 to celebrate,
noting that it was the first national championship for the women's team. But she
said the nature of the celebrations were unacceptable.
"It is not good for Maryland fans to come in the street and burn things," she
Some students, however, said police instigated the crowd.
"I think it's a little extreme," said sophomore Michael Green, who added that
he saw someone shot with a beanbag by police. "No one expected this."
Before and during the game Tuesday, many people said they were not expecting
a post-game celebration. But moments after a last-second 3-point shot by Duke
bounced off the rim, hundreds of fans poured out of Cornerstone Grill &
Loft, the Santa Fe Cafe and other establishments and quickly clogged Route 1.
Moments later, a teenage female was struck by a car and seriously injured at
Route 1 and Knox Road, Brady said. The woman was taken to a local hospital and
was listed in critical but stable condition as of 1:30 a.m. Wednesday. Brady
said he could not provide further information about the victim due to privacy
Undeterred by the ambulances, fans ripped road signs from the ground and lit
them on fire a few feet from where the accident happened, and hundreds more
rushed down Knox Road from campus to join the party as a police helicopter
"I didn't expect it at all," junior Eric Fidler said as popular anti-Duke
chants boomed from the throng. "It started with just a few people, and people
started pouring out from campus. I don't think traffic is going to get through
for a while."
When a university shuttle bus tried to wade through the intersection, people
gathered on one side and rocked the bus violently from side to side, nearly
At 11:45 p.m., a line of police officers wielding batons and shields forced
the crowd onto Knox Road. Rioters threw at least three bottles -- one glass --
at police, who used pepper spray to repel the crowd.
Fans responded by throwing flaming T-shirts, screaming expletives at police
and chanting "We want horses!" -- a reference to the 2002 riots, when mounted
police were called to quell the crowds.
Just after a group lit a trash can on fire and threw it onto Knox Road, about
20 police officers formed a line in front of Wawa and told the crowd downtown
College Park was closed for an hour.
The officers continued into a parking lot between 7-Eleven and the South
Campus Commons, and the revelers gave way, but refused to retreat. Some hurled
rocks, while others banged on an air conditioning unit.
A group of fans pushed a boulder down a hill in the direction of police, who
retaliated by firing what appeared to be rubber bullets or beanbags. Copeland
could not confirm if police used a deterrent other than pepper spray, and he
said no injuries had been reported.
"The school's just tired of the whole rioting thing," Green said, "and
they're trying to get rid of it."
Copyright © 2006 University of Maryland Philip Merrill College of Journalism
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