Police in riot gear showed up on the University of Dayton campus this St. Patrick’s Day.
University officials said in a statement a large crowd was throwing things at police and not responding to police commands.
Students are celebrating the holiday in the student neighborhoods surrounding the campus.
“Everyone was just partying, having a good time,” said Eli Stearns, a University of Dayton junior, of the celebrations earlier in the day. “There wasn’t anything crazy or anything like that.”
Witnesses on scene described the crowd as “rowdy”. Students stood on the roofs of porches, and broken bottles lined the streets.
By around 6:30 p.m., police in riot gear lined up on Lowes Street and ordered students to leave.
“Leave this area,” an announcement from police said. “If you do not do so, you may be arrested or subject to other police action.”
Other police action, the announcement said, could include “chemical agents or less lethal munitions.”
Some witnesses told 2 NEWS they saw students crowding the street shortly beforehand and a few throwing what looked like beer cans, some said, at police officers.
“There were just a select few who were throwing them at the cops,” said Rachel Richardson, a University of Dayton junior.
University officials said people were throwing things at police officers, saying in a statement: “University of Dayton police and Dayton police determined that a large crowd blocking Lowes Street, throwing objects at police and others and not responding to police commands, presented an extremely dangerous situation on Saturday afternoon.”
According to officials, police orders to clear the street were not successful and so police were “withdrawn for safety reasons.”
Police ordered students to vacate Lowes Street and closed the road for a few hours. According to university officials, the street was cleared in about a half-hour without any issues, and no arrests were made.
“I was kind of scared,” said Liam Kohler, a University of Dayton junior. “I wasn’t honestly kind of nervous until the riot shields came out. Then I kind of felt very uneasy.”
UD junior Eli Stearns said he also saw a car windshield smashed.
Some students said they understand where the police are coming from. Others argue they overreacted.
“I think they’re doing a good job,” said John Miller, a sophomore. “We were a little bit frightened at first, but there was so many people, you kind of felt like…you didn’t need to be frightened.”
“I think towards the end they started to act a little bit more – they just kind of started to take it up too many notches a little bit, and with the masks it seems a little too over the top,” Richardson said.
After 8 p.m. the street reopened, and some students came back out of their houses.
According to university officials, a strong police presence will be in the student neighborhood Saturday night and on Sunday. If a similar crowd gathers, police plan to order the crowd to disperse.
UD police have stepped up patrols on campus and in the neighborhoods where the celebrations are happening.
According to UD officials, campus police have also partnered with other local law enforcement agencies for their efforts.
Back in 2013, police in riot gear swarmed UD’s campus after St. Patrick’s Day celebrations got out of control. Cars were vandalized, broken bottles littered the ground and police showed up in riot gear, making several arrests.
UD officials announced they’re also offering non-alcoholic events and activities on campus Saturday to encourage students to find alternatives to drinking as they’re celebrating.