Editor’s note: The name of East Lansing City Council Member Susan Woods has been corrected.
The East Lansing City Council met on Tuesday night for the first time since this weekend’s chaotic Big Ten Championship celebration.
During their work session, the council examined a report from East Lansing Police Chief Juli Liebler, Capt. Jeff Murphy and City Manager George Lahanas about the incidents early Sunday morning.
In the aftermath of the Spartans’ Big Ten title win, East Lansing Police made 15 arrests while the East Lansing Fire Department was called to a minimum of 57 fires.
Council expressed both disappointment at the events of the night and gratitude for the police department’s efforts.
“It was very frustrating to see what is referred to as a ‘tradition’ (burning couches) by some individuals happen again…. for anyone to think this is an appropriate celebratory tradition is something that I find offensive,” East Lansing Mayor Nathan Triplett said. “I would like to offer my personal thanks (to the police department) for the work that was done this weekend.”
A police officer on the scene Sunday morning told a State News reporter that he would classify what was going on in Cedar Village as a “riot.”
But Chief Liebler said she wants to avoid using that word.
“That’s a very inflammatory term, it’s obvious that it was a very bad event but we are trying to get away from using those types of terms,” Liebler said. “We called it a civil disturbance. We are trying to change the culture at this university and the use of that word (riot) is inflammatory.”
She also said she felt the police department was prepared for the night’s unrest.
“We were adequately prepared for what we typically face,” Liebler said. “Obviously we are not able to predict the future, but based on the past we’ve never had a riot after a football game, particularly an away football game.
“There was no indication to us that it was going to be anything but a normal away football game,” she said.
During the meeting Liebler took a question from councilmember Susan Woods, who asked if the majority of people arrested were intoxicated. Liebler said a handful were not intoxicated.
East Lansing and MSU Police have arrested 12 MSU students so far, four of whom have been arraigned and charged with disorderly conduct. The ELPD is offering monetary rewards to anyone with information that could convict those involved in the incidents.
But City Manager George Lahanas stressed that most East Lansing residents had no part in this weekend’s civil disturbance.
“This is not to characterize everybody because this was a group of people who were choosing to misbehave,” he said.