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Goal posts torn down, tear gas used, several arrested after National Championship win

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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.

12 comments

  1. I certainly hope that the students are charged for the criminal damaging of the Stadium (and any other property) to the “FULLEST extent of the law”!

  2. The criminal damaging by our students and any other hooligans should be prosecuted to the fullest but as typical a CPD overreaction where they become the agitators towards many people who are out celebrating a tremendous victory around campus. Very unfortunate!

    Can’t someone coordinate things better knowing the “celebration in the streets” is going to happen – close off High Street and let the kids have their fun. Arrest the idiots who break the law and let everyone else have their day. It is not as if this hasn’t happened before.

    Go BUCKS!!!

  3. What is with the cop spraying the revelers in the face with the detached look on his face. Looks like my neighbors spraying insecticide on their weeds. There seems to be no provocation. How about some compassion and empathy CPD?

  4. Another example of a lack of leadership from the OSU administration, in my opinion. I’m not impressed by the new president or his staff in the least on many counts and now we can add the mismanagement of this opportunity to the list. There should have been plans for a post-game celebration — made in advance and communicated broadly. People want to come together in moments like this to jump up and down, hoot and holler, and revel with others who share their joy. One of the big attractions of attending OSU is the opportunity it gives a student to be part of something bigger than one’s self — and this is a key example of that. Plans should have been made to direct students to the Oval, the stadium, a closed section of Lane or High — someplace! — where they could scream, shout, hug, and high five until they were worn out. Personally, I would have recommended inviting all students to convene on the Oval or someplace else 20 minutes after the conclusion of game for a World Record-setting singing of Carmen Ohio. How cool would that have been to have had a memory for the rest of your life of standing shoulder-to-shoulder in the wee hours of a cold, dark, and joyous morning with thousands of fellow Buckeyes to “sing Ohio’s praise and songs to Alma Mater raise”??

  5. If the over-the-top police reaction were an indication of a strong, competent police department, that would be one thing. But in reality, crime is rampant on and around campus; the most dangerous cases are the armed robberies right on campus. The police seem to do nothing except to warn the victims to be more careful.

    Bottom-line: at this point, the police in Columbus are no more than an nuisance to the student body.

  6. We won the title and need celebration. However, if you block any public street and set fire to couches in the middle of street, I think you deserve mace and tear gas.

  7. Nothing that I’ve seen in photos or video indicate there was justification for the Columbus Police or OSU Police to respond as they did. Sofas on fire? Dumpsters? Think ahead, stage a fire department presence in the off campus housing neighborhoods and you take care of that. Don’t claim you couldn’t get to these places except via High Street and therefore needed to respond with such unwarranted force. That’s an embarrassment. Secondly, block off High Street from Lane to 8th. When you have the single sanctioned, university sponsored viewing event being held in the Ohio Union as well as packed bars and restaurants along High Street, where did university and city authorities think those crowds were going to go when they left those locations. Ummmm….how about High Street? Third, The Lantern and other publications calling these “riots” is adding unneeded fuel to the fire. Pun intended. Stop it. You’re smarter than that. Where is the video evidence of riots? There isn’t any because this wasn’t one. Finally, with regard to the stadium: Open the gates and let the students in! It’s an artificial turf field and it wasn’t going to be damaged. Light up the lights, turn on the video board, remove the goalposts ahead of time and let them all on the field…1000, 8000 or 40,000 of them! That’s all they wanted. This was a cause for responsible celebration and that’s what 99% of these students and fans were doing.
    Bottom line: This was a confrontation that was unnecessary, appears to have been carefully pre-planned and this situation was 100% caused by some combination of the CPD, OSUPD, CFD and the university. It’s sad.

  8. Buckeye Parent and T both make excellent points. I hope they write the ones pertinent to the administration up and mail them in to President Drake.

    Letters on paper still make a larger impression than email.

  9. Buckeye in the West

    Looks like, based upon a video posted on The Columbus Dispatch web site, that the police were not provoked in using peeper spray. They just went ahead and sprayed just north of 13th and High Street. Looks like the crowd was not unruly at all. Unless yelling “USA! USA! is considered unruly. If anything, what occurred afterwords, fires, rock throwing, etc. probably was the result Columbus Police creating the situation.

    Columbus Police and OSU students have a long history of distrust. It goes back to May, 1970 when student protest, that closed the Neil Avenue gate (near 12th Avenue). The Columbus Police responded by tear gassing Neil, the Oval, 15th Avenue and Indianola up to Lane. This resulted in OSU closing for the quarter. A couple days later, were the shootings at Kent State.

    As a result of the 1970 situation, the OSU Police Department was formed and Columbus Police effectively were kicked off campus. It is the way Columbus Police react to OSU students which continue to cause animosity to the present day; 45 years later. If the Columbus Police spent more time with property and violent crime east of campus, than jay walking tickets on High Street, the OSU area would not be the crime ridden area it is.

  10. The comments crack me up!

    Go Buckeyes!!!

    13th St. Riots, 1999, 2000, and 2001

  11. 1. Ohio State (64) 14-1

    2. Oregon 13-2 W

    3. TCU 12-1

    4. Alabama 12-2 W

    5. Michigan State 11-2 W

    http://napoleonlive.info/what-i-think/buckeyes-rule/

  12. I know I know kiddies you had to listen to ESPN etc. tell you for a season the team was toast when the QBs started dropping like flies. You had to hear the Tide will ROLL over the buckeyes. Melvin Gordon will be crowned the Heisman winner after Wisconsin stomps da bucks. Then the Duck already booked his ticket to Disney World (ESPN booked it)!!! hahaha Then a player commits suicide because God could’t tell him it was about to get better!!!! I laugh how my buckeye child keeps getting congrats here like she ran those TDs in. hahahaha Calm down kiddies and celebrate peacefully. The TEAM will need you next year (I know Nick I know we have to come through you AGAIN haha) NOT ON BAIL/PROBATION!!! hahahaha GREAT journey buckeyes…..

    Jalen Rose that tweet made me laugh but I bet Jim Harbaugh was thinking “OMG don’t make them mad while I’m rebuilding. Plus Nick Saban has a spot already dusted an waxed waiting….!” hahahaha

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