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Union College celebration leads to off-campus arrests

Updated: 04/13/2014 11:26 AM
Created: 04/13/2014 6:54 AM WNYT.com
By: Steve Flamisch

SCHENECTADY – Hundreds of students flooded a city street, and several people were arrested, after the Union College men’s hockey team defeated Minnesota in the National Championship Game on Saturday.

Police shut down a block of Union Avenue between Union Street and Gillespie Street as the crowd swarmed outside several off-campus houses.

Many of the students were carrying open containers of beer. Some were throwing the containers at police.

"I just saw a lot of people throwing beer bottles, and the cops reacting," said Ryan McGeown-Conron, a Union College freshman who witnessed the disturbance. "That’s not right. It could hurt people."

A glass bottle struck one Schenectady police officer in the back, police said. He was not injured.

On a bullhorn, Police Lt. Mark McCracken warned the students to calm down. Schenectady Mayor Gary McCarthy tried to reason with them. But the crowd did not disperse.

More than 30 police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and state troopers tried to establish control. At least one officer used pepper spray.

"It killed my eyes, killed my throat," said Albert Fiorneza, a Union College sophomore. "I really could not breathe for about at least 15, 20 seconds."

One young man was seen pouring a drink into his friend’s eyes, trying to relieve the burning sensation.

At the height of the commotion, police arrested several people in full view of the crowd. Some students alleged police brutality.

McCracken said a few of the people taken into custody did have minor injuries, but he said police never used excessive force.

"I didn't personally supervise each and every arrest, so I'm not going to comment on how a young man may or may not have received a scrape or a cut," McCracken said.

"But, you know, my officers took care of business," he said. "They handled themselves like professionals. And I commend them."

In the end, no officers were injured. At least five people were arrested on various charges, but the final number was pending. It was not clear whether all or some of them are Union College students.

By 12:30 a.m. Sunday, the crowd had broken up. Union Avenue soon re-opened to traffic.

Albany

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