A Riot Before A Riot: The Media, Police and University to Blame in Dinkytown ‘Riots’

If you head over to Dinkytown, the best-known college village literally steps from the University of Minnesota’s Twin Cities campus, at bar close or any time in the later evening, you’ll see a lot of interesting stuff. Primarily, you’ll see a lot of college kids who have probably had a couple too many and are attempting to make their way home. That should have been the case on Saturday night.

At 6:30 Minneapolis time, the puck dropped on the NCAA National Championship hockey game in Philadelphia. Minnesota’s Golden Gophers played the role of Goliath, Union College played the role of David and, as usual, David won. Apparently, the Dinkytown dwellers were supposed to riot.

It was a likely scenario, right? They had just kind of, sort of had done just that when the Gophers beat arch rival North Dakota in the semi-finals. It was a riot full of, well, not a whole lot of rioting. Students were taking pictures with police officers, so obviously the enforcement wasn’t exactly overwhelmed with duties.

Flash-forward to Saturday night, throngs of cops and media showed up in Dinkytown; the former to keep the peace, the latter to report on the pending riot. The funny thing is that they caused the riot.

College students are the biggest group influenced by the theory of monkey see, monkey do. Students walk out of the bars and see police, mounted police, a State Patrol helicopter and a tank, seriously, and it hits them that they should be doing something bad. It’s what they are supposed to be doing, right?! That’s why everyone is there.

I assume there was probably a couple extra hundred people in Dinkytown because it was the National Championship game, but otherwise it would have probably been the typical Thursday-Sunday night on a college campus. Let’s not over-fascinate a common happening.

This brings me to the following example from KMSP, the FOX affiliate in Minneapolis – St. Paul, who had this beautiful piece of field reporting.


It shouldn’t come as a shock that drunken frat boys are the same to a lighted TV camera as a moth is to a flame. Did you seriously think you could go a legitimate live-shot in the middle of what you and your competitors blew out of the water and built up as a riot before the puck even dropped on Saturday night?

The University of Minnesota’s President Eric Kaler stating there would be a zero tolerance policy and announcing the extra police presence just added gas to the barely-lit fire. Let the kids be kids.

Do the police have to be there? Of course they do. Do they need to start attacking and pepper spraying? Absolutely not.

Does the media need to be there? Yes, it is a story. Is it right for the media to force feed a ‘riot’ days before it happens? No.

Drunken kids might have been a little rowdy, but all young people between the ages of 17-22 imitate what they see on their Twitter feeds, movies and TV shows. Say the kids were out of line, but don’t act like the adults in this scenario didn’t overreact.

Monkey see, monkey do.

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