Tailgating Trauma

Jason Mann

Jason Mann

Students joke about ending Hobo Day in jail, but for several students and alumni, comedy turned into reality.

Twelve people were arrested after refusing to leave the Backyard at the Sept. 29 Hobo Day game. They were charged with failure to vacate after notice and disorderly conduct.

All are required to appear in court.

“I don’t know why people couldn’t follow a simple rule,” says Tim Heaton, chief of the University Police Department.

Heaton said he delayed arresting tailgaters for as long as possible. He said that officers told individuals to leave or they would be arrested 30 minutes before kick-off, as the new policy mandates. When participants would not leave, he had officers in squad cars turn on the “annoying sirens.”

After the noise did not work, Heaton said he had no choice but to enforce the policy. He said after the crowd saw the UPD officers begin arresting those who wouldn’t comply, most of them realized the seriousness of the situation and ran away.

Some students became violent, throwing bottles at squad cars and at officers. A couple officers were hit in the face but did not require medical attention.

“The cowards that were throwing from the back of the crowd didn’t have the best aim,” says Heaton.

Nate Loos, a senior electronics engineering technology major, was tailgating when UPD officers were trying to close the Backyard. He says he and his friends stayed in the area for at least an hour after the Backyard should have been closed. One of the squad cars was parked in front of his group for a half hour with its siren on. Loos said his group was told to get on their bus and that anyone who got off of the bus would be arrested.

Heaton said that while the first two games of the season did not yield any arrests, tailgaters at the Hobo Day game crossed the line. He asks that anyone who has information about the people who threw the bottles should call the UPD office at 688-5117.

Heaton also said he will not be as patient with policy violators at future games because tailgaters should know the rule by now.

“Hopefully we won’t have that kind of ridiculous situation again,” said Heaton.