By: Jennifer Liptak – Sophomore, Human Rights
At this time last year I was with some friends cheering for the University of Dayton men’s basketball team during its NCAA March Madness journey. We were keeping up with the status of the “riots” at school, eager to find out what our fellow classmates would do next.
A year later and here I am, writing an article about my own experience during the first March Madness riot of 2015. As we all know, UD’s victory over Providence Friday led to a roaring celebration throughout campus. Students, who received an email earlier this week with precautions for the upcoming sporting events, knew that the police with riot gear would be back this year. As I walked toward Kiefaber Street with a few of my friends, the sound of excited students grew louder and louder. Even though I didn’t really know what to expect, I was pretty excited to experience the madness.
When we arrived at the street, I was shocked at the amount of students, but even more so at the intimidating line of riot cops patrolling the road. Lined up horizontally across the street, the cops forcefully pushed students out of the way, yelling at them to “get the hell away.” The cop directly in the middle held a speaker repeating, “If you are a resident of the student neighborhood, go into your house, lock the door and close the window. If you do not comply, you are subject to arrest.”
Every so often, the cops would shove students on the street or sidewalks onto the grass, not hesitating to use violence. My friend Grace and I, both involved and interested in human rights advocacy, decided to take a video of the injustice we were witnessing. Grace was filming from the edge of the grass when, suddenly, the officers from the middle of the road charged toward us. I tried to move, but, before I knew it, I was thrown to the ground and trampled on by a mob of angry cops because a male student did something to catch their attention.
Then, in complete shock, I tried to stand up, but I was nimbly grabbed and thrown into the grass by several cops. A few students who had witnessed everything helped me up and tried to get me to follow them, but I looked back and saw that my hat had been knocked off and my phone was missing. I walked over to the cops, barely able to form words at this point ,and asked if I could run down to the sidewalk and grab my hat. They told me no and said I needed to leave right away. I stood there for a little longer and, thankfully, one of the nicer cops allowed me to grab my hat, as well as follow a News Center 7 cameraman to find my phone. Every so many feet, a cop stopped us, yelling at us to walk somewhere else. Out of the five or six cops that stopped us, only one of them treated me with respect.
What upsets me the most is how the cops communicated. What good could come out of profanity and rage? Threatening students with arrest for doing absolutely nothing wrong, hitting people with batons and shoving people in all different directions isn’t keeping the peace. I never expected something like that, something that happens in movies, to actually happen – and on a Marianist campus. I am embarrassed for our school, not because of the students, but because of how poorly UD authority handled the situation. Part of the Marianist tradition is to respect everyone and to protect our community. Last Friday, that tradition was broken.