Nov 092004
Authors: Jake Blumberg

Several riots have raged through the streets of student towns

since the beginning of fall semester.

Three riots have occurred at Colorado universities since late

August, including two at CSU on Aug. 21 and 22 and one on Oct. 30

at University of Colorado-Boulder.

CU freshman Geoff Ross recalls the riot on the Oct. 30.

“When I walked down the street, there were about 1,500 kids at

this block party,” Ross said. “When the police arrived to break the

party up, that’s when the rioting started. There was no intention

to start the riot, it just kind of happened.”

How a riot starts can vary from instance to instance, but riots

do have similarities. Ernie Chavez, chair of the psychology

department, said rioters have a definite psychological profile.

“Riots are a factor of depersonalization, a kind of pack

mentality,” Chavez said. “The more able a person is to be

anonymous, and people feel they are in a large crowd during a riot,

the more a person is likely to do something out of order.”

Chavez also said in the case of the riot in Boulder, the

participants were in Halloween costumes, which may have heightened

their sense of anonymity.

Although participants may feel their actions have no

consequences, the negative results of riots can be astronomical,

causing thousands of dollars of damage and injuries to police and


“So far, we have $29,000 of reported damage,” said Julie Brooks,

public information officer for the Boulder Police Department. “Our

estimates from that night hit about $44,000, so we believe we still

have some people who have not reported the damage to their property

and vehicles.”

Along with damage done to property, other lasting effects from

the riots include 18 arrests, 11 of which were CU students, and

suspensions for those involved.

“We hope there will be arrests made in the future connected to

the riot,” Brooks said. “We have asked the public for their

assistance in apprehending some of those who were involved in the

more destructive aspects of the riot.”

At CSU, seven arrests were made in connection to the riots in

August, said Anne Hudgens, executive director of Campus Life.

“Along with the arrests made in connection to the riots, nine

students were suspended under the Colorado Mandatory Suspension

Law,” Hudgens said. “The law states that any student convicted of

riotous behavior that attends a Colorado school must be suspended

from school for at least 12 months. During this time period, they

cannot attend any school in Colorado.”

Those who were arrested at the riots in Fort Collins were

generally not the individuals who incited the riot, but those who

were on the outside looking in, said Hudgens.

“Sadly, the students who were arrested at our riots were not the

ones who started the whole thing,” Hudgens said. “Police are rarely

able to get to those in the middle of the riot, those who started

it, because it is just to dangerous for the police to go in to get


In Boulder, the case was no different for police, said Lt. Tim

McGraw at the CU Police Department.

“There are no bystanders at a riot. If you are there, even on

the outside looking in, you are a part of the riot,” McGraw said.

“When there is a public safety announcement by the police, you have

a legal obligation to leave, otherwise, you will be considered part

of the riot and will be arrested for it.”

The riots in both Boulder and Fort Collins garnered negative

publicity and national attention for both Colorado schools. Some

students, like Coit Stevenson, a freshman zoology major at CSU,

feels the effects of riots at both CU and CSU are exaggerated.

“It happens at schools across the nation, not just at CU and

CSU. I just think it’s getting blown way out of proportion,”

Stevenson said. “It’s just a few students who get out of control at

a party. It’s not like every one across campus, across the state,

are involved in these riots.”

Steps are being taken at both universities to prevent riots in

the future, with various methods being used to create riot

prevention policy, Hudgens said. Both negative measures, such as

bringing in buses to arrest every single person at a riot and

positive measures are being considered for the future.

“Personally, I feel that positive peer pressure is the best way

to prevent these things from happening,” Hudgens said. “If people,

instead of cheering for those who are lighting things on fire or

tipping cars over, were to say, ‘Let’s not do this, let’s leave,’

the riots would not take place.”

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