Revelers became rioters at Michigan State early Sunday morning, when Cedar Fest, a massive block party, got so rowdy it prompted campus and East Lansing police to release smoke and flash-bang grenades and tear gas to dissipate the 4,000-person crowd, the State News reports. Fifty-two people were arrested, and 48 were issued tickets; about half of those were MSU students. Many of those arrested were cited for drunken and disorderly behavior, and several women were apprehended for exposing themselves.
The party started going south early in the night around 11 p.m., when revelers began throwing beer bottles at police. Fireworks hit an officer after midnight, and by 1:30 a.m., law enforcement was asking the mob to disperse over a loudspeaker. After several unsuccessful requests, police used flash and smoke grenades at 2:07 a.m. and, nine minutes later—after a handful of people chanted for the use of tear gas—law enforcement released the gas rounds.
"It got to the point where I don't see how we could have dispersed that crowd without tear gas," said the police chief.
Sixty-four smoke, flash-bang, and rubber pellet grenades were released, and 13 rounds of tear gas were launched.
"The volume of glass that was coming in was ridiculous," said the chief. "The amount of people being hit was ridiculous."
Surprisingly, the damage from the riot was "minimal." Smashed bottles, windshields, lights, and windows littered the ground, while several trash cans and at least one dumpster were lit on fire.
The Cedar Fest "tradition" was revived via Facebook, where 7,000 people RSVP'd for the event. The block party had been banned in 1987, after the semiannual celebration transformed into a semiannual riot throughout the '70s and '80s.
Though some students complained of excessive police force, the local ACLU leadership called police action restrained, especially in comparison with the 2005 riot that followed the men's basketball team's Final Four loss, when 299 canisters of tear gas were released.
And for the record, there seems to be no sports-related reason for this year's melee—unless you count the women's basketball team's
finals loss in the WNIT. The event seems to have solely spawned from the creation of a Facebook event; university officials may press charges against the events creator as the investigation continues. In her blog, the university president expressed disappointment in the "irresponsible behavior of a determined few" and promised to "pursue aggressive and fair implementation of university policies and state statutes" against those who remained after police told the crowd to disperse.
Said the police chief: "As far as I'm concerned, Cedar Fest is over, and we're not going to allow it to happen again."