A large group of maskless students in Colorado started at a party, but devolved into a mob that attacked police and caused property damage.
Between 500 to 800 students gathered at the University of Colorado and were involved in the incident, according to Boulder police. Three SWAT officers were hurt when they were hit by bricks, rocks and other unknown objects, police said.
Officials from Boulder and the University of Colorado condemned the attacks and threatened strict punishments.
Around 5 p.m. Saturday, police started to receive calls about a large party in a neighborhood and tried to disperse the crowd, according to police. About 40 minutes later, the crowd grew and some started to pelt the officers with glass bottles.
Around 5:45 p.m., Boulder SWAT was called to help control the crowd.
Officers set up an incident command post and plainclothes officers monitored the situation.
Around 8 p.m., the university sent out an alert about the disturbance. Around 30 minutes later, SWAT officers made announcements to the crowd telling them to leave and that it was an “unlawful assembly” because of the conditions.
Around 8:45 p.m., some of the large crowd moved towards the university’s campus.
Officers were using armored vehicles to make the announcements and a group surrounded the officers. The SWAT members were hit with rocks, some of which police said were the size of softballs.
Police used pepperball projectiles at the ground to get the crowd to stop. They also used smoke and tear gas. The wind changed, which limited the impacts on the crowd, according to authorities.
With the crowd in the hundreds, police decided to pull-back and watched the crowd. It was then the windshield to the armored vehicle was shattered.
Officers then used a “warble noise” to clear the crowd. Between 8:45 and 9 p.m., the mob started to thin, police say.
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Police say several non-police vehicles were damaged in the incident, including one flipped over by the mob. Several street signs were also damaged. A fire truck that tried to drive through the area was damaged when people tried to jump on as it was moving.
Anyone with information about the criminal actions is asked to contact Boulder police at (303) 441-1974.
Several university groups and city officials released statements about the mob. University chancellor Philip DiStefano said students who engaged in violence could be expelled from the university in addition to criminal charges.
He also said the university spoke to public health officials and anyone at the gathering was advised to quarantine and take a COVID-19 test.
“To the students who participated in the incident last night: you have embarrassed yourselves and the entire University of Colorado Boulder. Your actions violated university and community standards at every level,” DIStefano wrote in a letter.
Executive Director of Boulder County Public Health Jeff Zayach said the actions put everyone at risk and threatened the safe return to in-person learning.
“The videos from the party last night are shocking and disturbing, especially considering Governor Polis had just mourned the nearly 6,000 people that died in the last year with COVID in Colorado. This disregard of mask wearing, disregard of social distancing, and disregard on limits on personal social gatherings clearly in violation of the orders from the state is unacceptable,” he said.
Boulder City spokeswoman Sarah Huntley blasted the behavior and said the public health risks of the gathering are potentially dire.
“The City of Boulder condemns the behavior of those who organized and attended the party and will seek the strictest consequences – legal, economic and when relevant, academic – for anyone who engaged in violence or destruction of property. We are grateful that the injured officers are recovering and that no one else was hurt in this dangerous situation,” she said.
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