Saturday, November 28, 2020

'Observing is participating': MSU, police warn against game day fires

April 3, 2019
Students stand around a fire at Cedar Village Apartments after MSU's victory over Duke in the Elite Eight on March 31, 2019.
Students stand around a fire at Cedar Village Apartments after MSU's victory over Duke in the Elite Eight on March 31, 2019. —
Photo by Matt Zubik | The State News

Michigan State and the East Lansing Police Department warned students about the criminal consequences of attending "destructive gatherings" in a press release. This follows the 12 fires set after MSU's 68-67 win over Duke March 31.

Students participating in destruction could face consequences from the university such as suspension or expulsion in addition to criminal charges.

Acting MSU President Satish Udpa said in a statement the basketball team has faced great adversity this year and the community should celebrate the team's success with class.

“Destroying property and taking part in destructive gatherings are not Spartan traditions," Udpa said. "These actions are incredibly dangerous and are an embarrassment to Spartans everywhere."

Of the reported fires in Cedar Village after MSU's Elite Eight victory, no damages were reported other than to the property burned. The gathering was estimated by East Lansing Police Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez to be made up of 600 to 800 people at its peak.

Fans blocked traffic on Grand River, threw glass bottles in Cedar Village and lit a couch on fire. Police extinguished the couch fire an estimated 20 minutes after it was set.

“Observing is participating,” Gonzalez said. “Just by going to an unlawful gathering, you can be arrested.”

Anyone within 300 feet of an open fire who is not making an attempt to leave the area can be charged with a misdemeanor. The charge can lead to 90 days in jail and a $550 fine, according to the press release.

In addition to a large police presence, officers will monitor local news and social media on game day to identify individuals taking part in destructive behavior.

In celebration of MSU's Final Four appearance, the university will host a watch party in the Union ballroom at 8 p.m. April 6. Free popcorn and pop will be available as fans watch the Spartans take on Texas Tech for a spot in the NCAA title game.

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