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55 arrested, police pelted at Blarney Blowout

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Hand-cuffed and in the mud, a highly intoxicated man is urged to his feet by an officer who then escorted the man to a police van Saturday afternoon, March 8, behind a residence in Amherst near the intersection of North Pleasant and Fearing streets.

    JASON PICARD
    Hand-cuffed and in the mud, a highly intoxicated man is urged to his feet by an officer who then escorted the man to a police van Saturday afternoon, March 8, behind a residence in Amherst near the intersection of North Pleasant and Fearing streets. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the large crowds that assembled during Blarney Blowout in Amherst on March 8, 2014.

    TOM BEATON
    One of the large crowds that assembled during Blarney Blowout in Amherst on March 8, 2014. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Party-goers are detained by police in a parkingl ot behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    Party-goers are detained by police in a parkingl ot behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>An officer helps a highly intoxicated man to his feet while another escorts an apparently sober individual away from the scene that was forcibly dispersed of several hundred people less than a half hour before, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    An officer helps a highly intoxicated man to his feet while another escorts an apparently sober individual away from the scene that was forcibly dispersed of several hundred people less than a half hour before, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Two young men are detained after police forcibly dispersed a parking area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    Two young men are detained after police forcibly dispersed a parking area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>An arrest in Amherst on Saturday during Blarney Blowout.

    TOM BEATON
    An arrest in Amherst on Saturday during Blarney Blowout. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>Police monitor Blarney Blowout participants on Saturday.

    TOM BEATON
    Police monitor Blarney Blowout participants on Saturday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the crowds at Blarney Blowout, March 8, 2014.

    TOM BEATON
    One of the crowds at Blarney Blowout, March 8, 2014. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Hundreds of students block traffic as they flood into North Pleasant Street after being forcibly dispersed from an area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    Hundreds of students block traffic as they flood into North Pleasant Street after being forcibly dispersed from an area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>Crowds in Amherst at Blarney Blowout 2014.

    TOM BEATON
    Crowds in Amherst at Blarney Blowout 2014. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>There were reports of police in Amherst seeking out Blarney Blowout revelers hiding in buildings.

    TOM BEATON
    There were reports of police in Amherst seeking out Blarney Blowout revelers hiding in buildings. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>Debris left behind at one Blarney Blowout location on March 8, 2014.

    TOM BEATON
    Debris left behind at one Blarney Blowout location on March 8, 2014. Purchase photo reprints »

  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the more than two dozen arrests made during Blarney Blowout 2014.

    TOM BEATON
    One of the more than two dozen arrests made during Blarney Blowout 2014. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>A young man is loaded into a van after Amherst police forcibly dispersed a crowd from behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    A young man is loaded into a van after Amherst police forcibly dispersed a crowd from behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Police officers move through the location that was forcibly disbersed while carrying rifles designed to fire "OC Pepper Ball" crowd control rounds, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.

    JASON PICARD
    Police officers move through the location that was forcibly disbersed while carrying rifles designed to fire "OC Pepper Ball" crowd control rounds, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Blarney Blowout revelers party on the roof at 1185 North Pleasant Street in Amherst Saturday.

    JERREY ROBERTS
    Blarney Blowout revelers party on the roof at 1185 North Pleasant Street in Amherst Saturday. Purchase photo reprints »

  • JASON PICARD<br/>Hand-cuffed and in the mud, a highly intoxicated man is urged to his feet by an officer who then escorted the man to a police van Saturday afternoon, March 8, behind a residence in Amherst near the intersection of North Pleasant and Fearing streets.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the large crowds that assembled during Blarney Blowout in Amherst on March 8, 2014.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>Party-goers are detained by police in a parkingl ot behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>An officer helps a highly intoxicated man to his feet while another escorts an apparently sober individual away from the scene that was forcibly dispersed of several hundred people less than a half hour before, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>Two young men are detained after police forcibly dispersed a parking area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>An arrest in Amherst on Saturday during Blarney Blowout.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>Police monitor Blarney Blowout participants on Saturday.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the crowds at Blarney Blowout, March 8, 2014.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>Hundreds of students block traffic as they flood into North Pleasant Street after being forcibly dispersed from an area behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>Crowds in Amherst at Blarney Blowout 2014.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>There were reports of police in Amherst seeking out Blarney Blowout revelers hiding in buildings.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>Debris left behind at one Blarney Blowout location on March 8, 2014.
  • TOM BEATON<br/>One of the more than two dozen arrests made during Blarney Blowout 2014.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>A young man is loaded into a van after Amherst police forcibly dispersed a crowd from behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • JASON PICARD<br/>Police officers move through the location that was forcibly disbersed while carrying rifles designed to fire "OC Pepper Ball" crowd control rounds, behind an Amherst residence near the corner of North Pleasant and Fearing streets on Saturday afternoon, March 8.
  • JERREY ROBERTS<br/>Blarney Blowout revelers party on the roof at 1185 North Pleasant Street in Amherst Saturday.

The confrontations grew violent at times with participants throwing bottles and cans at the police, who in turn sought to single out individuals whom they wrestled to the ground, often twisting a limb if the person wasn’t submitting to arrest.

In all, *55 people were arrested on charges ranging from minor alcohol infractions to assault and battery on a police officer. Another 28 were to be summoned to court.

The University of Massachusetts said students who violated the school’s code of conduct face disciplinary action.

School spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement that the conduct of those arrested by either town or campus police will be examined by the dean of students. “Sanctions can include suspension or expulsion from the university,” the statement said.

Amherst Police Capt. Christopher Pronovost said that given the amount of alcohol being consumed, allowing the crowds to persist and grow posed a serious threat to public safety due to flying bottles and the outbreak of fights. The first crowd of several thousand young people formed at 10 a.m., police said, leaving the UMass campus and moving north on North Pleasant Street.

Once the crowd arrived at the Puffton Village Apartment complex, it continued to grow, police said. By 11 a.m., vehicles were unable to move through the area. Bottles, cans and snowballs were thrown and police dispersed the crowd.

That scenario was replayed at Brandywine Apartments at 12:15 p.m., where the crowd was estimated at 4,000, and then again just after 1:30 p.m. near downtown at North Pleasant and Fearing streets.

Each time one of the dense crowds was dispersed, the ground where they had gathered was littered with thousands of empty beer cans and bottles. Participants could be seen vomiting and staggering due to drunkenness. The smell of tear gas hung in the air after each of the confrontations.

Fire Chief Walter “Tim” Nelson said several revelers where taken to the hospital and a larger number were treated at the scene for lacerations to the head and limbs, some related to falling. At least four police officers suffered injuries, none requiring a trip to the hospital, he said.

Nelson said some participants were treated for having dangerously high levels of alcohol in their systems.

Police also reported destruction of property including vehicles and light poles.

Pronovost characterized the day’s events as “mayhem.”

“This can’t in any way, shape or form be characterized as a party,” he said. “This is destruction of property and assaultive behavior.”

Pronovost said students could be seen fighting with each other. “It gets worse every year. If they need somewhere to go, something should be organized for them,” the captain said.

Amherst police used 20 officers to respond to the Blarney Blowout, with other staffing provided by UMass and state police, the department said.

Power of numbers

Selin Uzumcu, an 18-year-old freshman studying business, was upbeat about the day. “Blarney Blowout 2014 was a blast, even though I got tear-gassed.”

A woman identifying herself as Megan Kenny, a first-year student, said of the event, “There is a lot of booze and a lot of crazy fun.”

A young woman who identified herself as Taylor Beaton, a 19-year-old sophomore studying biology, said the event showed the power of numbers. “UMass thinks they have authority. But when you have 25,000 people, they’re going to do what they want to do.”

She witnessed the police crackdown at Brandywine, saying of it, “There might have been a more peaceful way of doing it.”

Andrew Newcomb of Holyoke, a manager at Brandywine, was picking up trash around the complex after the crowd had moved on. He said he had called the police when the crowd started to gather and was told by the dispatcher that they were already on the way. “If they get drunk in this kind of a crowd, things can get violent,” he said.

Many participants made their way south from Brandywine to the Fearing Street area, as messages flew across social media identifying that part of town as the next gathering spot.

Police said the gathering near the town center was associated with a party around the Pi Kappa Alpha fraternity house at 374 North Pleasant St. When police in riot gear moved to clear the area, they were again pelted with “glass bottles, full beer cans, rocks, snowballs,” according to a department release. Items were thrown from the roof, windows and porch of the house, police said, prompting them to respond to occupants inside.

As of 7:30 p.m. Saturday, the arrest total was 43. Charges included failure to disperse and inciting a riot (18), assault with a dangerous weapon (three), and breaking and entering (one). Other charges were disorderly conduct, liquor law violations and assault and battery on police officers.

Pronovost said he had expected this pattern to recur through the afternoon and evening. With revelers communicating through social media, “a party can swell from 50 to 5,000 in a matter of minutes,” he said.

A senior in the UMass department of hospitality and tourism management who declined to give his last name said the pattern of cat-and-mouse battles between students and police is part of the game.

Raul Colon, a 32-year Amherst resident, came to collect bottles and cans to redeem after the afternoon confrontation near the intersection of Fearing and North Pleasant streets.

He said he first saw several thousand people gather at that spot as early as 7 a.m. Describing the scenes that repeated themselves throughout the day, he said, “It looks like a revolution, like in the countries that have revolutions between the students and the government.”

Before Saturday, UMass had warned all students in an email message that misconduct would not be tolerated. It asked them to act safely and respect the property of others. Further, it notified students who had already been disciplined for “alcohol-related misconduct” that bad behavior could bring consequences.

*CORRECTION: The initial version of this story reported an incorrect number of arrests.


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Legacy Comments21

" I woke up at 7AM to drink." Kid from the video. That's pretty impressive, kid.

ma and pa are so proud today

Relax people. Dean Wormer has placed them all on double-secret probation. All of you writing the PC righteous indignation over the term "paddy wagon" need to get a life. We Irish have a rich history of which we are very proud. Sure, we have a stereotype that includes drinking and fighting. So what? Irish were also the predominant ethnicity in the first police departments in NYC and Boston. Perhaps that has as much to do with the term paddy wagon as anything else. And if it doesn't, who cares. There are bigger, more-deserving problems in the world that warrant our indignation.

Amherst doesn't prosecute. ZooMass doesn't discipline. Students don't change behavior because there is no consequence to the actions - Affluenza in good old MA

I'm all for stricter consequences for the youth who don't care what they do and are playing to outfox authority but after looking up the history of Blarney Blowout, I now understand this "holiday" was created by the pubs and bars to make money off of college kids before they go off on their spring breaks. Therefore, I feel strongly that the local Amherst pubs need to be made financially responsible for this mayhem to the town which, I'm sure, is not insignificant. They, and the package stores, are making a huge profit at the cost of the well-being and safety of students (those under 21 are illegal drinkers). I'd like to see more transparency on this matter.

A small segment of students simply do not care what they do,in their minds this is just fun and they will do whatever it takes to stick it to the authorities.These are the ones that must be given the harshest punishment for their actions,whatever that might be. My son,who lives in Italy,called yesterday and heard about the riots at UMASS.He said it was never like this when he was going to Amherst High in the late 80's.No son,it was never like this way back when.....

A black eye, indeed, for U MASS. I was in Amherst in the afternoon on Saturday to pick up a (non-drinking) student and had to drive by police cruisers who had blocked off certain streets because of the throngs of kelly-green clad students in the streets. Later, I was in the center of this small town surrounded by more youth carousing and crowding the sidewalks and pubs, overwhelming the residents. Appalling are the comments by students who think outnumbering and outfoxing adults in charge of their safety and that of the town's is all a game. Appalling, too, is the short-sightedness of the administrators who think prevention is about issuing warnings to students and having enough manpower to break up crowds of 1000's. Having license to engage in parties on this scale on a campus of 22,000 mostly underage youth with easy access to alcohol is a recipe for disaster. Rather than living with more divisiveness between the student population and those in charge, why not foster more collaboration and dialogue between students, college and townspeople, work on creating a better climate to foster youth toward higher ideals than getting drunk on the weekend. And in the meantime, let's have stricter consequences for underage drinking and misbehavior and get the community's support to curtail the supply of alcohol to students if necessary.

I am a retired WSU professor. The state appropriates $225 million of taxpayers' money to UMass Amherst, out of a $1 billion budget. That amounts to $10,000 per full-time student. I would love to see the top administrators on that campus tell those drunks that they haven't earned it, they don't deserve it, and load them on buses taking them home to Mom and Dad (who will no doubt defend their precious alcoholic offspring). When that happens, this behavior will stop. But I won't hold my breath.

It behooves me as to how walking in a drunken crown of 1,000s, leaving trash behind along with vehicle and light pole damage all the while blocking traffic could be described as "fun". If they were younger, they would be described as juvenile delinquents. And the young adults giving statements to the press have no idea......

This is not "crazy fun." This is a humiliating disgrace.

Kids come from near and far for the BB, not just Umass kids. I think part of the blame falls on the downtown bars for establishing the event to capitalize on the "holiday" before the kids go on break. The tradition needs to end now. Is the trouble worth it to the town? I think not.

Why are these students not expelled from college and sent home? The Code of Student Conduct at UMASS says: "The University focuses primarily on educating students about their behavior, but may impose sanctions up to and including suspension and expulsion in order to preserve a safe and healthy environment for the University community." This isn't partying - this is endangering the health and safety of themselves, other students, and the local police. It should not be tolerated.

YOU must remember Amherst is a college town. how many Amherst or Hampshire students were at the event? I sure some did attend but we in Amherst don't talk about the other two colleges in town. How come?????????

There were kids there from many colleges, some coming down from NH! Seems to me that the bars need to stop sponsoring the "Blarney Blast". Is the additional businesses worth the trouble to the town???

Amherst has about 1,800 students. Hampshire has about 1,400. Both of those schools together- their entire student body, combined- are smaller than the crowd at Brandywine. Any students showing up from other area colleges would be just a drop in the vomity, drunken ocean of UMass students. We don't talk about the others, because the others aren't capable of causing the kind of disturbance UMass does- they simply don't have the numbers.

I agree with Felicia. The term "paddy-wagon" really should be retired. It's inappropriate and it should be replaced. Language is always alive and evolving and we need to be careful of old biases. I remember the appearance of "ghetto blaster" when "boom box" was much more accurate. Thanks! Dennis Vandal

Just curious as to who organizes this event? Why should the town have to clean up this mess which UMass should be responsible for? There really needs to be come accountability here. At first I didn't understand why they were partying when Saint Patrick's Day is not for another 10 days, but then I was told that they would be on Spring Break at that point. So somebody had to organize this and should be held responsible for the mayhem.

I've heard the figure 73 for total arrests.

Although I appreciate the attention being paid to this town-sponsored disaster, as a person of Irish descent, I object to your use of the word "paddy-wagon" as a caption to your photographs. Using this word instead of the more accurate, police vehicle, only further perpetuates the stereotype of the drunken, fighting Irish and adds to this reductionist view of an entire culture of people. I hope in the future you'll be more sensitive to your word choice and recognize the power that words have to do further harm. From Wikipedia: The word paddy wagon is of American origin. Seemingly an abbreviation of "patrol wagon", the precise origin of the term is uncertain and disputed, though its use dates back to at least the beginning of the 1900s.[1] There are at least two other theories as how the phrase originated.[2] The most prevalent theory is based on the term "Paddy" (a common Irish shortening of Patrick, as in the Irish language Patrick is Padraig), which was used (often as derogatory slang) to refer to Irish people.[3] Irishmen made up a large percentage of the officers of early police forces in many American cities. Thus, this theory suggests that the concentration of Irish in the police forces led to the term "paddy wagon" being used to describe the vehicles driven by police. An alternative theory is similarly based on the term "Paddy" but states that the term arose due to the allegedly high crime level among Irish immigrants.[4] Thank you, Felicia Sevene

I am committed to the idea of multiculturalism and respect for the "richness of difference" but this lecture is tiresome PC scholarly overkill. And as long as you were on the subject, did it even occur to you to condemn the whole idea of a "Blarney Blowout" as a slander on the Irish?

I don't know if any UMass students read the Gazette, but I've got something to say anyway. SHAME on them for disgracing the reputation of my alma mater. When I was a student there, UMass was just barely emerging from its "ZooMass" reputation and I've long felt truly proud of being an alumna. An incident like this just sets the school back again and makes students themselves look bad, partiers and non-partiers alike. I wish more people had been arrested and I give props to the Amherst Police Department for managing the situation as they were able.

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