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University Hill Disturbance Update

BOULDER, Colo. – The Boulder Police Department is currently investigating hundreds of tips related to last night’s large disturbance on University Hill neighborhood to identify the individuals responsible for assaulting first responders and damaging numerous amounts of property.

Timeline of Events:

At approximately 1:30 p.m., Boulder Police Code Enforcement began responding to residences on 12th and 13th streets for reports of parties being held and issued warnings for violations of the public health order. These individuals were receptive to the notices and separate from the disturbance that occurred later Saturday evening.

Just before 5 p.m., Boulder Police Dispatch began receiving calls about a large party on 10th Street between Pennsylvania and College. Officers from BPD’s Neighborhood Impact Team, which regularly patrols that neighborhood, responded to the area and attempted to disperse the gathering.

At approximately 5:40 p.m., the crowd swelled and individuals began pelting the officers with glass bottles.

At approximately 5:48 p.m., BPD’s SWAT was activated. SWAT from Boulder County, Longmont and Colorado State Patrol were requested later in the evening for additional assistance.

During this time, officers stood up an incident command post and deployed plainclothes officers to monitor the situation.

At 8:01 p.m. C.U. Boulder sent out an alert about the disturbance.

At approximately 8:22 p.m., SWAT officers returned to the area of 10th and College and made announcements to disperse the unlawful assembly due to the conditions.  These announcements were made three times.

At 8:42 p.m., there were reports that large groups of students were moving back toward campus.

At the time officers with the armored rescue vehicle were making these announcements, individuals surrounded the vehicle and both officers and the vehicle were pelted repeatedly with rocks and bottles.  At least three SWAT officers were struck with rocks, some of them approximately the size of a softball. 

Officers on scene then deployed pepperball projectiles directed at the ground around those causing harm. These officers also deployed two canisters of smoke and one canister of CS Tear Gas. Due to a change in wind direction, the effects of the gas on the crowd were greatly diminished.

Due to the sheer number of individuals, which numbered between 500 to 800 people, the decision was made to pull the officers out of the immediate area and observe crowd actions. The windshield to the armored vehicle was shattered during this time. 

Officers then used a toned warble noise from the Long Range Acoustical Device to clear the crowd from in front of the vehicle in order to leave the area.

At 9:13 p.m., CU Boulder sent out a second alert asking individuals to avoid the Hill area until further notice due to the disturbance, saying people in the area could be subject to arrest and CU sanctions.”

Between 8:45 and 9 p.m., the crowd finally began to disperse.

Injuries/Damages:

At least three SWAT officers sustained minor injuries during when they were struck by bricks, rocks and other unknown objects.

We have not received any reports of anyone else who was injured during this disturbance.

Numerous community member vehicles were also damaged, including one that was flipped over by the mob and one struck with objects as it attempted to drive south on 10th Street. Many other vehicles were jumped on and damaged by the crowd.

Many Street signs in the area were damaged.

A Boulder Fire-Rescue engine that drove through the area was also damaged during this time and several individuals jumped on the vehicles as it was moving.

Photos of the damaged vehicles:

The Boulder Police Department’s Armored Rescue Vehicle was heavily damaged with shattered front and side glass and numerous large dents to the armor.

Boulder Fire Department engine

Submit Information to Detectives:

Anyone who may have information about criminal acts that occurred during this disturbance is asked to submit it via any of the below means:

*Video and Photos Online: https://bouldercopd.evidence.com/axon/citizen/public/hill-disturbance

*Boulder Police tipline (303) 441-1974

*Northern Colorado Crime Stoppers at 1-800-222-TIPS (8477). Tips may also be submitted through the Crime Stoppers website at crimeshurt.com

Statements:
City Statement (can be attributed to City Spokesperson Sarah Huntley)
The City of Boulder condemns the behavior of those who organized and attended the party and will seek the strictest consequences – legal, economic and when relevant, academic – for anyone who engaged in violence or destruction of property. We are grateful that the injured officers are recovering and that no one else was hurt in this dangerous situation.

The public health stakes of this type of a gathering are high and potentially dire, not just to partygoers, but also to neighbors and other community members. Public Health is advising anyone who participated or came into contact with participants to quarantine for at least 10 days and monitor symptoms for up to 14 days. People should take advantage of  free testing seven days following the exposure event, but please understand that a negative test before 14 days is not a guarantee there was no transmission. The university also offers testing.

The city wishes to make clear that a gathering of this size, even absent a pandemic, would not be permitted in a residential neighborhood. All residents of University Hill, including students, have a right to quiet enjoyment of their homes and of shared streets and outdoor spaces. This conduct was not consistent with that expectation. Later this afternoon, the police department will issue a detailed timeline of the incident, as well as information about its response at each phase.

We took initial steps to disperse this gathering with as little force as possible. When it became clear, however, that participants were not responding, we realized we needed to communicate our expectations more strongly. We took a graduated SWAT approach, leveraging best practices for de-escalating disturbances.

The responsibility for non-compliance rests fully on those who participated in violence and property destruction, as well as those who chose simply to stay and observe. The police department, public health and the university are fully united in our response to this situation and will work together to ensure there are consequences for all those identified.

Chief Herold has already communicated with District Attorney Michael Dougherty, who has agreed that aggressive prosecution and penalties are appropriate. 

Anyone with information and/or photos or video is asked to contact police by visiting the following website: https://tinyurl.com/UniversityHillDisturbance

While we will accept anonymous tips, it is helpful if tipsters provide contact information for call backs from investigators.

 Several outside agencies responded at Boulder Police’s request, including the county and Colorado State Patrol, and the city is appreciative of this support. The university, at the city’s request, sent out a text alert using its emergency notification system, which appeared to have a positive impact. The city believes this kind of coordination is essential and is committed to continuing to collaborate with partners proactively to prevent additional gatherings.

We had already been planning for a coordinated approach with partners in connection with St. Patrick’s Day and Spring Break. What occurred last night underscores the importance of pro-active strategies. These include, but are not limited to, statements and code of conduct consequences from the university; nuisance and civil abatements that result in action taken against property owners; misdemeanor and when appropriate, felony, charges. 

CU Statement
CU Boulder has vowed to work closely with the city in addressing discipline for students who were involved in physical violence, property damage and other violations related to this incident. This includes any student who is found to have violated current health orders or who refused to disperse when asked by law enforcement being subject to disciplinary action by the university. This also includes more serious sanctions, up to permanent expulsion, for those found responsible for engaging in acts of violence toward police officers or property damage. 

“(Saturday’s) actions violate university and community standards at every level,” CU Boulder Chancellor Philip DiStefano wrote in a letter to the campus community on Sunday. “A basic condition for being part of CU Boulder is accountability to each other and to the community at all times. … Those who demonstrate through their conduct that they cannot meet our expectations are not welcome at our university.” More: https://www.colorado.edu/chancellor/newsletter/news/university-hill-large-scale-disturbance-march-6

University of Colorado President Mark Kennedy also released a statement Sunday: “The violence, vandalism and acts of aggression we saw yesterday are unacceptable and we will do all we can to hold CU students who engaged in them accountable. I fully support the actions of Chancellor DiStefano and his team and appreciate the efforts of Boulder Police and CU Police Department to address the situation.” 

Public Health Statement
Statement from Jeff Zayach, BCPH Executive Director: The videos from the party last night are shocking and disturbing, especially considering Governor Polis had just mourned the nearly 6,000 people that died in the last year with COVID in Colorado. This disregard of mask wearing, disregard of social distancing, and disregard on limits on personal social gatherings clearly in violation of the orders from the state is unacceptable. And, none of us want to see violence toward personal property and first responders. We know there are many students here that have been doing the right thing and following public health requirements.  The individuals who participated in this activity last night negatively impact all the students at CU, our businesses, and our communities. This behavior put our businesses, our community, and individuals at risk, and threatens the safe opening of the University to in person learning. I feel for the residents living on the Hill that had to go through this traumatic event, and for the students who condemn this activity. We need to remember that the majority of students are not doing this and need to assure that students are not all lumped into this same group.

District Attorney Michael Dougherty
“Our community was put at risk last night by the individuals involved in the incident in the Hill area. Their callous disregard for our community’s safety and well-being is shameful. There is no excuse for this conduct, especially while the people of this community endure the pandemic. The District Attorney’s Office will work closely with the Boulder Police Department to determine the identities of the people who damaged private property and assaulted first responders because they should be held fully responsible for their outrageous actions.”

Link to Virtual Press Conference and Additional Information:

https://bouldercolorado.gov/police/disturbance-on-university-hill

 

--CITY--