Dinkytown riot: Kaler vows "zero tolerance" Saturday night as MPD reports two cops injured

U of M and MPD officials don't want a repeat of this scene tomorrow night.

U of M and MPD officials don't want a repeat of this scene tomorrow night.

:::: UPDATE :::: Dinkytown hockey riot part deux: Top photos

University of Minnesota junior Becca Leighton was just planning to stay in and watch the Frozen Four semifinal hockey game. But after the Gophers pulled off a stunning last-second victory, she started receiving Snapchats from friends who were out and about in Dinkytown as students overran the streets in scenes reminiscent of Halloween in Madison.

So Leighton, her boyfriend, and his roommate decided to check it out for themselves.

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"I thought, I'll never forgive myself if I miss out on this big riot," Leighton tells us. "When we got there, we figured it was ending because people were running toward us and that's when they were tear-gassing everyone."

But things soon died down, and before too long, cops were taking photos of other cops posting with festively clad students.

Leighton took the shot that was number one in our top Dinkytown riot photos post:
-- Becca (@BeccaBabble) April 11, 2014 "I thought it was too funny that he has his baton between his legs while he's holding up a camera and taking a picture," Leighton says.

And here's what appears to be the actual photo depicted in Leighton's photo of a photo: "The cops were pretty chill about it," Leighton says. "If you were bothering them they were getting pretty pissed, but as long as you stayed out of their way you were fine. They posed for selfies with us."

It wasn't all fun and selfies, however. In addition to 10 arrests, the Minneapolis Police Department reported this afternoon that two cops were injured during the riot and had to be taken to the Hennepin County Medical Center for treatment.

"An undetermined amount of public and police property was damaged over the course of two hours," an MPD release says. It goes on to ask witnesses "who have video or other evidence that might be helpful to investigators" to contact the police tip line at 612-692-TIPS.

Today, U of M President Eric Kaler wrote a letter to students warning them against trying to replicate last night after the Gophers square off against Union in the national championship game Saturday.

"Any destructive behavior on Saturday night will be met with zero tolerance," Kaler writes. "University police, Minneapolis police, and other law enforcement from across the metro area will be present and prepared to keep the peace and to arrest suspects. Inappropriate behavior will be prosecuted consistent with the Student Conduct Code and students found responsible will face punishment and, potentially, expulsion."

Kaler also pointed out that merely watching rioting violates university policy, a warning some worry might have a chilling effect on journalists who want to cover whatever goes down in Dinkytown after the game.

(For more, click to page two.)

"Let me be clear: Just being present and watching a riot is, in itself, a violation of the Student Conduct Code," Kaler writes. "Bystanders are equally at risk of being held accountable. If you are present following the game, and it seems like things may be getting out of hand, it's best for you and your friends to leave. In this era of social media, no one is anonymous."

The MPD echoed Kaler's tone.

"If celebrations escalate into criminal behavior, the MPD will act to ensure public safety and protect property. Anyone told to disperse from an assembly that has been declared unlawful must immediately leave the area. Failure to do so may result in an arrest," an MPD statement says. "Again, MPD supports and encourages lawful, responsible, and safe celebrations."

But Leighton's decision to get out of the house and check out last night's riot continues to pay dividends. Her photo of the smiling cop posing with the blondes has been retweeted well over 300 times as this is published and is the talk of campus today, even if many students are nursing hangovers and playing hooky from class.

"I was in class and a girl leaned in and was like, 'Did you take that picture?'" Leighton says. "She said, 'Oh, I retweeted that and so did my boyfriend,' and I saw that a football player retweeted it too."

-- Follow Aaron Rupar on Twitter at @atrupar. Got a tip? Drop him a line at [email protected]