Spring Jam 2011: U of M calls in reinforcements

Has it really been two years already?

It seems like just yesterday that a mob of like-minded students, filled with liquid courage and the spirit of Asher Roth, started a bonfire in the middle of Dinkytown and took turns jumping over it until the police intervened with tear gas.

Hoping to avoid national media attention this time around, the University of Minnesota plans to bring in extra police to work security for its 2011 Spring Jam events.

"There's a plan in place to make a police presence there," says Sgt. Stephen McCarty, Minneapolis police spokesman. "Just to keep people safe while they're partying responsibly is the theme we want to convey."

And even though Spring Jam begins tonight, the policing is already underway: As you read this, authorities are probably scouring your Facebook page in search of some clue as to who is planning this year's blowout.

For those who need a refresher, the U of M's Spring Jam 2009 was quite the event. I was coming out of the Oak Street Theater for MSPIFF that night, saw the cloud of smoke from the bus stop, and decided to check it out.

It was truly a sight to behold. More than 500 people -- the collaboration of many nearby house parties -- had moved the festivities outside. An enormous fire blazed in the middle of Seventh Street Southeast, a residential area of Dinkytown. Some people ran up and down the street on the roofs of unfortunate parked cars. Others threw bottles and smashed car windows.

The future leaders of tomorrow can't coordinate a proper fire jump.

Eventually, police in riot gear showed up and told everyone to go home. They were greeted with flying glass bottles and the customary "Fuck the police" chants.

In turn, police busted out the heavy artillery. I got out of there when the tear gas started to fly. Others stayed around for the marking rounds and pepper spray.

Last year, the U of M considered dissolving the Spring Jam tradition. Instead, they decided to tone it down with a speech from a Nobel Peace Prize recipient and a performance from Cloud Cult. Miraculously, no riots ensued.

Let's see if this year goes as smoothly.

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