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Md. Students Allege Excessive Force

November 19, 2001

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COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) _ Several University of Maryland students have filed complaints against campus police, alleging officers used excessive force on a crowd that was celebrating a football victory.

Police arrested 15 people Saturday on disorderly conduct charges after officers and firefighters rushed into the large, rowdy group gathered on a field on Fraternity Row.

The crowd of about 2,000 was celebrating the Terrapins’ 23-19 victory over North Carolina State, which clinched a conference championship and ensured the team a bowl game berth.

Two people were treated at the scene for reactions to pepper spray, officials said. But no one was seriously hurt and property damage was minimal, they said.

Campus police were assisted by Prince George’s County police and firefighters, Maryland State Police and U.S. Park Police, officials said.

Police flew overhead in helicopters and moved onto the field on foot, on horseback and in a heavy-duty truck, using bullhorns as they ordered people to leave the area or risk arrest. Most students fled.

Many students said authorities overreacted.

``It was a little scary. All we wanted to do was have a little revelry and celebrate,″ senior Joahim Van Brandt said.

Lt. Col. Gerald Wilson, deputy chief of Prince George’s County police, said officers acted properly to maintain security. ``We have a responsibility to ensure the safety of the community,″ he said.

Officials said they wanted to avoid a repeat of March 31 _ when hundreds of students set more than 60 fires, causing an estimated $500,000 in damage to property and cable television, telephone and power lines, after Maryland lost to Duke University in the NCAA basketball semifinals.

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