Student journalists at The Minnesota Daily covering riots following the University of Minnesota’s national hockey championship went from covering the news to becoming the news in early April.
Four student journalists — three photographers and a reporter — said they were taking photos and notes April 7 when they suddenly became the targets of police officers. One photographer said she was hit with a riot stick after an officer sprayed her with pepper spray. The other three journalists were sprayed with a chemical irritant as well, according to reports in The Daily.
The Daily‘s editor, Mike Wereschagin, met with Minneapolis Mayor R.T. Rybak and police Chief Robert Olson on Wednesday to discuss the incidents and talk about ways to prevent them in the future.
“I’d like to see a reason why this happened, and I want to see a concrete policy that this will never, ever happen again,” Wereschagin told The Daily.
Rybak and Olson agreed that changes needed to be made and vowed to investigate the matter. The police chief, seeking more contact with The Daily, has invited the student newspaper to attend a bi-annual meeting between the police department and local media outlets.
“They’re legitimate concerns,” Olson said, according to The Daily.
The riots began after the university’s hockey team won the NCAA championship. According to reports in the Star Tribune of Minneapolis, between 150 and 200 people took to the streets, damaging property, setting fires and throwing rocks and bottles at police officers. More than 20 people were charged with disorderly conduct.