Police Fire Tear Gas at University of Michigan Crowd
ANN ARBOR, Mich. (AP) _ Police fired tear gas to break up a crowd of University of Michigan basketball fans who hurled rocks, bottles and a bowling pin early today after their team lost the national championship.
Four people, including three officers, suffered minor injuries. Three people were arrested, one for streaking, the others for hitting police horses, authorities said.
Fans, some vomiting from the tear gas and others weeping and coughing, said police retaliated with no warning and little provocation.
″I’ve never actually seen anything like this incited before,″ said Chris Gottlieb, a 26-year-old student. ″A simple bullhorn could’ve saved a lot of trouble.″
The police chief said officers acted properly.
The violence broke out shortly after midnight as police on horseback tried to get the 5,000 to 6,000 people lining South University Street - the main campus thoroughfare - to disperse. When that failed, the officers, wearing riot gear, lined up and pushed the crowd back.
Fans then threw rocks, bottles and a bowling pin - ″whatever they get their hands on,″ Lt. Harold Tinsey said.
Police fired six volleys of tear gas, then the estimated 120 officers retreated to an enclosed quadrangle. About 500 people followed, and police fired at least four more volleys.
A handful of rioters set fire to trash bins and pulled down street signs. A few windows were broken.
Tinsey said damage was slight.
By 2 a.m., only a few revelers remained.
″The police seemed to get impatient with the lingering,″ said Wayne Adam, 26, a graduate student. ″There wasn’t any broken windows or bottle throwing. All that followed the police action.″
An officer received stitches after being hit in the head with a rock, police said. Another officer was hit with a bowling pin, authorities said.
Russell Faulkner, 21, a visitor from North Carolina, was hit in the head with a bottle. He was treated at a hospital and released.
″We lost 3/8″ screamed a companion, who didn’t give her name. ″We lost and they did this to us 3/8″
Duke University beat Michigan 71-51 to win the national championship Monday night.
Police Chief Doug Smith said today that the police acted after a TV newswoman was almost hit on the head with a bottle.
″There was fighting going on in the crowd, and bottles being thrown,″ he said. ″Are we supposed to let that happen?″
In 1989, when Michigan defeated Seton Hall to win the national basketball championship, more than 6,000 fans rushed the streets of Ann Arbor, pulling down street signs, smashing store windows and overturning cars.
At least 10 people were arrested, and one woman was hit by a car.