Police, City Come Down Hard on Postgame Celebrators

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The victory party may be over, but the consequences for the people celebrating in the streets may just be beginning.

"We were certainly very disappointed that some people in the Cedar Village area went out and engaged in really problematic behavior that was really inappropriate," said East Lansing City Manager George Lahanas. "People have unfortunately started associating a victory or a defeat with going out and engaging in the destruction of property. And we really have to try to break that cycle."

And to break the cycle, the city and the University are cracking down, vowing to prosecute as many people as possible involved in a post-game celebration that featured furniture fires.

The city is offering a $20,000 reward to anyone with information that leads to a conviction.

"We certainly hope letting people know we're actively pursuing people, taking it seriously will have a deterrent effect," said Lahanas, "letting them know, you're not anonymous at these events, if people are able to identify you or you're arrested at the scene, you will be held accountable for that."

Fifteen people -- including 12 MSU students -- were arrested Saturday night and early Sunday morning as students celebrated the Michigan State University football team's Big 10 Championship victory, according to an East Lansing police report.

Police hope they can bring in make more arrests by looking at pictures and video from the night.

MSU has also vowed disciplinary action, after President Lou Anna K. Simon called the post-game behavior "disappointing."

"Any student identified as taking part in setting or fueling fires will be subject to the MSU student judicial process, regardless of any criminal charges being filed," MSU Spokesman Kent Casella said in a statement. "If a student is found in violation, he or she faces sanctions ranging from warning to dismissal. A vast majority of those celebrating after the game did so peacefully. Those that disregarded the safety of others will not be tolerated."

Police estimate as many as 3,000 people packed the area around the Cedar Village apartment complex early Sunday morning. DTN Management, which owns the complex, estimates as much as $10,000 worth of landscaping damage.

There were no injuries, and the 15 arrests are a fraction of past celebrations. A "Cedarfest" event in 2008, for example, netted more than 50 arrests.

"As far as celebrations go, this is pretty much average," said Lt. Leo Allaire of the East Lansing Fire Department. "We've actually seen worse than this with the past riots that they had in '98 and 2002, so this is pretty average for a celebration like this."

Plus, with no reported injuries, many students say negative response is uncalled for.

"I think it's just part of tradition," said Haley Hildebrand, an MSU student. "It may have gotten out of hand, but it was no harm intended."

Many students drew the line at injury and property damage.

"If people get hurt then that's a problem," said student Cameron Rooks, "but if it's just everyone celebrating burning couches, I don't see the problem."

Courtney Friday, another student, agreed.

"You have to remember that we're all college kids and they're just trying to have fun," she said.

MSU President Lou Anna K. Simon didn't see it that way.

"The behavior last night on campus and in East Lansing by both students and non-students was disappointing," President Simon said in a statement. "These incidents will be reviewed within the appropriate legal and university processes and individuals will be held accountable."

The Ingham County Prosecutor's office says it has not received any referrals yet, though that doesn't necessarily there won't be charges.

The East Lansing City Attorney is reviewing police reports and says charges could be forthcoming.

Police used crews in riot gear to disperse crowds from the area around the Cedar Village apartment complex early Sunday morning. No tear gas was used.

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