MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — It’s clear that alcohol and excessive drinking played a role in the behavior of some of the people in the crowd in Dinkytown Saturday night. But what else may have led them to throw bottles at police, set a couch on fire, or vandalize a car?

John Tauer is an expert in social psychology at the University of St. Thomas.

“I don’t think it’s a spontaneous celebration like Thursday’s was as much as it was voyeuristic, a lot of the people going into see what would happen,” Tauer said.

Despite repeated warnings from the University of Minnesota and police, hundreds of people showed up.

Tauer says for some it was about exercising their right to be there.

“I think anytime people hear you can’t be on this street, there’s a certain element that’s thinking why not we’re not breaking the law. You told us don’t riot, we’re not we certainly have a right to sit here,” Tauer said.

For others, it was a chance to get attention.

Our cameras caught many people taking selfies in the middle of the action, and on Twitter, a Gopher fan posted a picture posing next to a SWAT officer.

“The narcissistic trend that we’re headed, where any attention on social media is seen as positive social attention,” Tauer said.

Tauer says while things clearly got out of hand at times, it was a far from out of control.

“This was far more individual misbehavior. When you put it all together, was it more unruly than a typical Saturday night, absolutely, were there more people out absolutely, was this a full-fledged riot, no,” Tauer said.

Tauer believes the measures the University and police put in place kept the situation from getting worse.


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