About 20 officers from the University’s Department of Public Safety and the Ann Arbor Police Department responded to a small riot at South University Avenue and Church Street just past midnight on Sunday morning.
Bystanders said about 300 people were present as a group of about 15 males jumped on top of a car, smashing out its windshield and windows before the male driver was able to drive his car away. The men reportedly damaged two other cars as well.
Ann Arbor Police on the scene said they had to force about 2,000 people away from the area. They were armed with pepper spray. On Saturday morning, Ann Arbor Police Sgt. Mike Scherba said police made “a couple” arrests, but was not able to give an exact number.
Several scuffles broke out on South University following the riot, and police blockaded South University from traffic at South Forest Avenue and East University Avenue, slowly forcing people away from the bars lining the street. Police ordered the bars to stop admitting new patrons at about 12:30 a.m. and they ordered them closed at about 1 a.m., police said.
DPS spokeswoman Diane Brown said DPS does not have jurisdiction in the area where the riot occurred, but responded to the riot to assist the AAPD. University officers appeared to mostly be assigned to traffic duties, blocking off South University, while mostly AAPD officers dealt with crowd control. About 10 of the responding officers were University Police.
Mike Gradillas, general manager of The Blue Leprechaun, said his staff was concerned that disorderly crowds outside the bar could cause a problem.
“We were really scared (something like this would happen),” Gradillas said.
Gradillas said South University was packed with people most of the day due to St. Patrick’s Day festivities, and he could feel tension building. He praised police for shutting the area down.
“They definitely handled it today,” Gradillas said.
Eastern Michigan University senior Joe Banks, who said he was punched in the face during the fight, said police did not respond to the riot immediately.
“It went on for like 20 minutes before the cops got there,” Banks said. “It was crazy.”
LSA junior Jen Mulligan and LSA sophomore Paul Sykula were collecting donations for Dance Marathon at the corner of South University and East University. Though they couldn’t see the riot from where they were, Mulligan said people were unusually disorderly.
“Usually this is a good time to get money, people are generous,” Mulligan said. “But they were just beyond incoherent.”
—Editor in Chief Joseph Lichterman contributed to this report.
Correction Appended: A previous version of this article misquoted LSA junior Jen Mulligan and mispelled LSA sophomore Paul Sykula’s name.