Apr 3, 2014 8:31 PM by Lupita Murillo

Rioting took place at Main Gate Square 43 years ago

TUCSON - The investigation continues into the disturbance following Saturday night's incident at Main Gate Square after the Wildcats loss to Wisconsin in the Elite 8. 15 students were arrested and charged with unlawful assembly and disorderly conduct.

However, this isn't the first time there have been riots at Main Gate Square. According to University of Arizona archives in January of 1971, 143 were arrested after a three day riot.

Pima County Sheriff Clarence Dupnik was one of the commanders for Tucson police at the time. He recalls the rioting was over the Vietnam War. "They would gather and start throwing rocks at everybody. The cops would come in and there would be a confrontation."

Newspaper accounts say bottles, rocks, and oranges were thrown at officers. More than 350 officers were needed to clear the area. Sheriff Dupnik adds, "This would last most of the night, and they would go hide and come back at dark the next night and we would fight all over again."

He says those arrested were charged with unlawful assembly, assault, trespassing and rioting. "When you are confronted with law enforcement in an unlawful situation and then you repeatedly refuse to follow directions you're risking the chance of getting arrested."

Sheriff Dupnik says it ended, when he had officers dress in U of A attire, jeans, and cowboy shirts . They stood behind the rock wall at the main gate. When rioters started throwing rocks, the officers began throwing rocks back at the rioters. "Eventually there was a confrontation and that ended the riots."

Prior to the 1971 riot, Dupnik attended riot training put on by the military in Ft. Benning, Ga. He says some of those tactics are still in place today and were used last Saturday.

"The Tucson Police Department acted exactly as they are trained to act and as they should have acted. We're very lucky that nothing serious happened and I praise the department for protecting the public and the property," says Dupnik.

He also tells News 4 Tucson, it's upsetting to him how some of the community is reacting to TPD's actions. He says if TPD hadn't been prepared, and the students got out of hand like they did in 1997, and 2001 the department would've been criticized for not doing enough.


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