While confetti rained down on the national champions in Arlington, Texas, tear gas filled the air in Columbus.
Columbus Division of Police used pepper spray and a SWAT team deployed tear gas on High Street as Ohio State fans swarmed the campus area — High Street, Mirror Lake and Ohio Stadium in particular — in a celebration over a national title victory.
OSU won against Oregon, 42-20, to win the National Championship on Monday night in Arlington, Texas.
According to a Tuesday press release from Columbus Police, approximately 200 people were involved in a break-in at Ohio Stadium, which resulted in damage to an entrance gate and a goalpost being torn down. About 8,000 people were in the vicinity of the ‘Shoe.
An incident of criminal damaging was reported at Ohio Stadium at 2:17 a.m., according to the University Police daily log.
The release also said that 27 fires were reported in the campus area from Monday night to Tuesday morning, and that “property destruction was taking place.”
Six to seven arrests were made by Columbus Police, mainly for fire-issues, the release said, but Administration and Planning spokesman Dan Hedman said none of these arrests were made on campus.
“(People) burned couches in the alleys,” said Alex Graves, a fourth-year in finance.
Graves said dumpsters were also set on fire.
Events on High Street escalated shortly before 1 a.m. on Tuesday, when Columbus Police officers used pepper spray to disperse fans celebrating in the street.
Later, a SWAT team used tear gas against crowds on either side of High Street as well as on 16th Avenue.
In the press release and a Tuesday afternoon press conference, Columbus Police said the response was appropriate.
“Fires could have gotten even further out of control if CFD vehicles were unable to reach them in time,” the release stated. “The least amount of force was used as possible in crowd control.”
Police used pepper spray in hand-held canisters, and a SWAT team shot dozens of tear gas canisters toward people in an effort to break up the crowds. Mounted police officers on horses were also deployed to the scene and dozens of police cruisers lined up on High Street, although traffic did not appear to be blocked. Cabs drove through white clouds of smoke from the tear gas.
At the press conference, Chief Kim Jacobs said the Columbus Police “believe (the situation) was handled as best at it could have been,” and said police had to display and use force to keep the crowds in check.
Some students on High Street at the time said the air was thick with tear gas and pepper spray.
“I was trying to cross (High Street) and the light changed so people started crossing,” said Reed Walter, a third-year in microbiology. “Immediately, like three seconds later… they just busted out Mace and started spraying people in the face.”
Lantern reporters on scene did not witness violence against police officers, though people pounded on traffic signs and threw newspapers, trash cans and other objects toward a police car.
After clearing out the street, police also closed the sidewalks of High Street and asked people to leave the area. People were told to cross High Street at 12th Avenue.
Officers on scene declined to comment on the reasons why they were using crowd-control tools and why the sidewalks were closed.
Over a loudspeaker, though, police called the events on High Street an “emergency situation,” and said that people who failed to leave were subject to arrest.
Most of the fans quickly dispersed after the first uses of tear gas, but a few hundred remained.
Tear gas canisters landed on the sidewalk and on the grassy area in front of the Ohio Union, as well as in private gardens along 16th Avenue, even though no large crowd was observed in those areas.
Police used pepper spray on fans standing on the sidewalk after telling them to leave the area.
Some fans were chanting “O-H-I-O” in celebration of the Buckeyes’ National Championship game win, but others also yelled “This is a free country!” and “F— the police!”
Many students were upset by police actions, saying the response was disproportional and that fans simply wanted to celebrate.
Police, though, said in the release they “received ‘thank-you’s’ by many on campus for their professionalism in handling the crowds.”
High Street and Mirror Lake appeared to calm down at about 2 a.m., though SWAT team members and police remained in the area.
Lee McClory contributed to this story.
Clarification: Jan. 16, 2015
An earlier version of this article stated that about 8,000 people were involved in a break-in at Ohio Stadium, when in fact, about 200 people broke in. Approximately 8,000 people were in the vicinity of the stadium.