State College, PA - Centre County - Central Pennsylvania - Home of Penn State University

Charges Reach 45 People in State College Riot; Total Damage Estimate Eclipses $150,000

on December 21, 2011 5:23 PM

With their investigation winding down, State College police have now brought charges against 45 people in connection with the Nov. 9 downtown riot, Lt. Chris Fishel said Wednesday.

Most of those targeted are facing misdemeanor-level, riot-related charges such as failure to disperse, police documents show. A majority of those charged are Penn State students; many have already waived their preliminary hearings, Fishel said.

Police will continue to identify the people whose photos have already been posted on the borough website, he said. The photos, taken at the riot, have been supplied through a variety of means, including news-media outlets.

At this point, Fishel said, most of those in the images have already been identified. He said the rate of arrests -- reaching about one percent of those at the disturbance -- is on par with arrest volumes typically sought in riot investigations in the U.S.

Also Wednesday, Fishel reported that the riot, per Chief Tom King, was the most destructive that State College has seen. Combined public- and private-property damages are expected to exceed $150,000, Fishel said. (That tally does not include police-overtime expenses, outlined in this earlier report.)

Damages in the 1998 downtown riot, until now viewed as the most destructive in State College, reached about $150,000.

But the Nov. 9 melee brought to bear a few unique elements, Fishel said. Among them: the mobility of the crowds, which did not confine themselves to the "Beaver Canyon" area of Beaver Avenue, between Pugh and Garner streets.

In addition, Fishel said, the use of social media was key in helping to mobilize the participants. He said one man used a whistle to help guide people who weren't using smartphones.

The Nov. 9 riot materialized when the university trustees announced the firing of now-former head football Coach Joe Paterno and the departure of now-former President Graham Spanier, though rioters clearly appeared more concerned with Paterno. A number of police officers were injured in the riot, which began on East Beaver Avenue between Pugh and Garner streets, then spread to College Avenue.

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