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Alcohol, Warm Weather and Party Atmosphere Blamed For Rioting

October 17, 1988

ST. CLOUD, Minn. (AP) _ Warm weather, the party atmosphere surrounding homecoming weekend and increased alcohol consumption have been blamed for two nights of rioting at St. Cloud State University.

″The catalyst for this whole thing was a lot of young people with a lot of booze in them,″ Assistant Police Chief Jim Moline said Sunday. ″They’re not experienced enough with alcohol and they just go kind of crazy.″

Things were quiet Sunday night, authorities said.

But the previous night, police clad in riot gear clashed with students and others who burned furniture and a trash bin that had been dragged into the street. Sixty people were arrested, including 34 students, police said. On Friday night, two people were arrested.

At least six people, including a police officer, were treated at a hospital for minor injuries suffered Saturday night and early Sunday, said hospital nursing supervisor Patricia Anderson.

Students set off firecrackers and some played the Beatles’ song ″Revolution″ on a stereo as police swept through the crowd, estimated at about 700 people, Saturday night. Other people tore down street signs and jumped on cars, or threw beer bottles and pieces of lumber.

In all, as many as 1,500 people converged on a four-block area both Friday and Saturday nights, Moline said.

Brendan McDonald, president of the 16,500-student campus, and several students said numerous out-of-towners came to St. Cloud to look for parties after Friday night’s disturbance.

″Once it hit the news media, it was like an open invitation,″ McDonald said. ″Some people will go any distance for a party.″

While authorities blamed the violence on the rioters, some students said police aggravated the situation by using excessive force.

″Both sides took it too far,″ said student Kevin Stanek.

But Moline praised officers for their handling of the disturbance. ″In situations like this, people have a tendency to say things that look to the public like they (police) are insensitive,″ he said.

Moline said that in his 31 years on the city police force, the weekend’s violence could be topped only by demonstrations against the Vietnam War in the 1960s.

The two people arrested Friday night probably will be charged with felony assault for throwing beer bottles, Moline said. Those arrested Saturday are likely to be charged with misdemeanors, he said.

McDonald met with school officials Sunday to discuss the riots, and university spokesman Angelo Gentile said a task force would be appointed to investigate. University fraternities and sororities sponsored a cleanup rally Sunday afternoon.

Gentile said the university has no jurisdiction over private rooming houses near campus that were the source of some of the trouble.

Update hourly