Police disperse fans celebrating on University Boulevard
After the UA’s 70-64 victory in the Sweet 16 competition on Thursday against San Diego State, groups of UA fans flooded University Blvd., causing Tucson Police Department to close down the street.
Fans’ celebrations on University Boulevard following the Arizona men’s basketball team’s victory prompted a police presence Thursday night.
Students and fans poured into the streets after Wildcats’ victory in the Sweet Sixteen chanting “U of A.” Some fans climbed onto the Tucson Streetcar platform near the intersection of University Boulevard and Tyndall Avenue and halted traffic in the area.
The fans remained in the street, cheering loudly, with some chanting, “Fuck Wisconsin.” Several fans also rocked one car back and forth as it attempted to leave the area.
Officers from the Tucson Police Department responded quickly to the celebrations and sealed off the area to traffic, according to Sgt. Pete Dugan, a TPD spokesman.
Julian Benitez, a senior studying history and Latin American studies, said he was watching the game at No Anchovies and saw people move onto the street following the conclusion of the game.
“It just looked like a bunch of students congregating, causing a ruckus,” Benitez said, “and all these cops came out of nowhere, trying to get everybody out of here, and it just didn’t make sense.”
Dugan said the celebrations occurred because all the fans were leaving their viewing on University Boulevard at the same time, and the police responded.
“[The police] were just trying to keep the crowds moving,” Dugan said.
Some fights broke out amid the celebrations, but it is unclear if any police were involved in breaking up those fights, Dugan added. It is also unclear if there were any injuries.
Officers put on riot gear and slowly began moving fans off of the street as police helicopters circled overhead.
Anna Damschroder, a business freshman, said she was upset with how the police handled the situation.
“The cops showed up and ruined everything,” Damschroder said. “They were being assholes.”
Cassidy Reynolds, a communications freshman, said the police would not let her cross the street.
“One of the cops yelled at me for putting my foot in the street,” Reynolds said.
Police in riot gear had fans cleared from the street and lined up along University Boulevard and around the intersection at Tyndall Avenue to prevent them from moving back onto the street. The majority of fans appeared to be leaving the scene by about 10:20 p.m.
Benitez said he thought the police mostly handled the situation well.
“For the amount of students [the police] were handling out here, they handled it well,” Benitez said. “They didn’t do anything weird; they just came in and asked everyone to leave.”
TPD has been preparing for potential riots related to a potential national championship run by the Arizona basketball team. Riots occurred in Tucson in 1997 and 2001 following national championship games.
The UA has launched a campaign asking students and fans to be respectful in their celebrations for the NCAA Tournament, called “Bear Down with Pride.”
“We would like to encourage students and fans to be classy,” Dugan said. “We’re not out here trying to ruin anyone’s good time.”