Ohio College Students Riot After Classes, Housing Suspended Due To Coronavirus
Dayton, OH – Police from multiple jurisdictions responded to assist when University of Dayton students threw a massive party Tuesday night after the college announced it was moving classes online in response to the threat of coronavirus.
The riotous gathering kicked off around 11 p.m., just hours after university officials announced that classes and on-campus housing would be temporarily suspended due to coronavirus concerns, WBRZ reported.
“Remote online course instruction will be instituted after spring break, beginning March 23 and continuing through at least April 6,” the university tweeted.
“UD housing will close at 6 pm March 11. If you are approved for an extended stay or housing over spring break, you are permitted to stay. Students should take any items necessary to continue their education from home as well as other essential items in case time away is extended,” a follow-up post read.
Students responded by taking to the street to throw “one last large gathering before spring break,” school officials later told WBRZ.
Over 1,000 students converged on Lowes Street and refused to disperse, resulting in officers from multiple departments being called to the scene, the Dayton Daily News reported.
According to the university, partygoers jumped on cars, hurled bottles at officers, and ignored the officers’ repeated orders to disperse.
“Police initially launched pepper balls, which contain powder with an irritant that disperses quickly, that were unsuccessful in reducing the crowd size,” school officials said.
Medics and fire trucks staged nearby as groups of law enforcement officers dressed in riot gear began clearing the street, the Dayton Daily News reported.
The university noted that the officers’ tactics were “effective in dispersing the crowd quickly,” and that the incident was quelled shortly after 2:15 a.m., according to the paper.
One individual was injured by a flying bottle during the chaos.
The broken glass and scattered debris that littered Lowes Street in the wake of the riot had all been removed by approximately 7 a.m. on Wednesday, the Dayton Daily News reported.
University officials denied claims that the students were holding a protest.
“There were some social media reports and rumors that this was a protest against our coronavirus measures — those reports are inaccurate,” the school said, according to WDTN. “Indications are that the students wanted one last large gathering before spring break and the size and behavior of the crowd required police to take action.”
University of Dayton Police Chief Savalas Kidd denied allegations that police used “tear gas, rubber bullets, paintballs and gas canisters” to disperse the partygoers, WDTN reported.
“As police officers, we try to support a campus environment where students can gather and celebrate safely,” Chief Kidd added. “But last night, the crowd created a dangerous situation, ignoring messages we have shared in the past and as late as last week to obey police orders, keep city streets clear, and refrain from damaging property and throwing objects.”