Arizona Students Riot After NCAA Tournament Loss to Wisconsin

Talk about March madness. Fifteen people were arrested in Tucson on Saturday night when students at the University of Arizona went wild after their team lost by one point to the University of Wisconsin in the Elite Eight round of the NCAA basketball tournament. Fourteen of those arrested were released, and one was sent to Pima County Jail. There were no reported injuries.

Anticipating potential trouble, the Tuscon Police Department had stationed officers around the area during the game. When students saw the officers on University Boulevard, said police spokesman Pete Dugan, some "began throwing smoke bombs as officers on motorcycles sounded sirens and circled fans." It escalated from there, with lines of riot police forming along the street. Fans reportedly threw beer cans, and eventually firecrackers, at police and refused to leave as officers ordered the rioters to disperse over a PA system.

Eventually police began throwing pepper canisters into the crowd. They also shot pepper balls, which are like paintballs filled with pepper spray that disperse the chemical into the air on impact. According to the Daily Wildcat :

One fan walked toward the police line with his arms spread out. This fan was shot by police multiple times with pepper balls, then forcibly pulled behind the police line. Officers proceeded to hold him in place while one officer kneed the man once in the stomach, then punched him three to four times in the stomach and torso before the man fell to the ground.

As helicopters flew over the street, the line of police advanced on the crowd of fans, pushing some back with their batons.

Students then took up a chant of, “Fuck Wisconsin,” and one voice in the crowd yelled out, “Don’t fall back” as the police approached. Other crowd members chimed in, shouting, “They can’t catch us all!”

The riot eventually dispersed around 9:30 p.m., about an hour after it began. It's safe to say that no one – neither police nor student rioters – came out of this incident looking good. Said a university spokesperson, "It is disappointing that a minority of Wildcat fans chose to engage in behavior that does not reflect the culture of the University of Arizona and Tucson communities."