Police have arrested more than 40 people participating in the pre-St. Patrick’s Day “Blarney Blowout” around the University of Massachusetts’ flagship campus in Amherst.
Four police officers were hurt as they worked to disperse hundreds of unruly students who were throwing beer cans and bottles at police on Saturday as large crowds gathered at an off-campus apartment complex, according to the Amherst police department. The officers did not require serious medical attention.
Police from the city, university and state troopers in riot gear converged on the crowds around noon. The Republican in Springfield reported that the police began to march toward the crowd firing paintball-style guns loaded with pepper spray after students began setting off fireworks.
Most of the people in custody have been charged with failing to disperse.
“It is extremely disturbing and unsafe. Perhaps one of the worst scenes we have ever had with drunkenness and unruliness,” Amherst Police Capt. Jennifer Gundersen told The Republican. “It is extremely upsetting. It is very dangerous.”
UMass spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said university police arrested three people, none of which were students. In a statement, the school “denounced the unruly behavior” and noted that the crowds “occurred for the most part off campus.”
“[S]tudents arrested by Amherst Police or UMass Police will have the details of their behavior reviewed by the Dean of Students under the Student Code of Conduct,” the statement said. “Sanctions can include suspension or expulsion from the university.”
The university said it reached out to students, landlords, parents, faculty and staff this week to “communicate the importance of students acting safely and respecting the property of others.”
New England Public Radio’s Sam Hudzik contributed.