EAST LANSING, Mich. (WOOD) — When an unruly crowd of fans gathered in the streets of East Lansing following Michigan State University’s Final Four loss, 23 people were arrested, 10 small fires were set and an entire roadway was blocked off.
But for police in East Lansing, Saturday’s situation went pretty well, all things considered.
“From our standpoint, it was a relative success,” Ingham County Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez said Monday.
Students and other MSU fans first gathered in the place that’s become known for large parties: the streets around Cedar Village — an apartment complex just off campus.
The crowd then worked its way north, blocking off a major roadway and stopping traffic. Along the way, beer bottles were tossed, streets signs were ripped up and a police van was damaged.
But the fracas only lasted about an hour before police broke it up, and all but one of the arrests were for misdemeanor charges.
“No vehicles overturned. No large windows broken out of businesses or anything like that,” Gonzalez explained.
There were also no reported injuries.
And while the crowd of approximately 1,500 people sounds like a massive group, it was smaller than police anticipated. It was also a fraction of the roughly 10,000 people who wreaked havoc during a riot at MSU in 1999.
“We certainly expected to see bigger crowds,” Gonzalez said. “I think we would’ve seen a lot larger crowd had we not worked to disperse it (when we did).”
The crowd was well-contained in part because of all the outside help police called in.
About 200 officers from eight agencies were on duty Saturday night — four times the entire sworn staff of East Lansing PD.
They’re all part of a mutual aid agreement, which is common with neighboring police agencies and fire departments. The agreement also avoids burdening one agency with the entire cost of response.
“Every police department that has officers that come in for these types of events are responsible for their own costs,” Gonzalez explained. “We can provide them officers when need be and we know that they’ll come and help us as soon as we ask.”
Gonzalez said he isn’t sure yet what the total cost was to contain the crowds, but he said East Lansing PD budgets each year for these types of events.
As for why this has become a tradition at MSU? Gonzalez said it may be simply because it’s part of the school’s history.
“But it’s behavior that really is unacceptable. We don’t tolerate it. We take a hard stance at it,” he said.