GREENSBORO, N.C. -- On Friday night, 800 people unexpectedly turned out for an event on the campus of the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, in a gym with a capacity of 180 people.
“They had to basically close the event within a short time after opening it and of course that agitated some of the people,” said UNCG police Chief Paul Lester.
The agitation, coupled with overcrowding, resulted in fights breaking out in the immediate area of the event, which was intended to raise money and water for the people of Flint, Mich.
“It was chaotic, I mean I got here as it was beginning to wind down and it was still a large group of people,” Lester said.
As a result of the fights, at least three people were injured, two of them seriously. Five people were arrested for failing to disperse and resisting arrest.
About a year ago, university officials said, a discussion about on-campus violence was ignited. Tonight, a meeting -- which had been planned well in advance of Friday’s incident -- was held by UNCG student government to discuss such violence. The topic of the meeting was amended to include Friday’s incident.
Students offered solutions and attempted to continue a positive conversation regarding on-campus violence.
Other students raised concerns about their interactions with police, saying that they rarely do unless there is something bad happening.
Some discussed how negative incidents impact the public perception of their universities.
One man, who declined to identify himself but did say he is a current faculty member at UNCG, accompanied one of the victims of Friday’s violence. The victim had visible injuries to his face.
“You can stand here and say ‘don’t point the finger, we are where we are,’” said the self-proclaimed employee. “We are where we are because we are not addressing the fact that we don’t like one another. At all.”
The man also addressed the comments made about police and their relationships with students and citizens.
“You have been petitioning and petitioning and petitioning these police to show up, to have at least two police officers. Don’t come in mass on the black events and now all of a sudden, we’re crying about they wasn’t there,” he said.
Lester said that the department’s preliminary investigation indicates that the people who engaged in the violent behavior do not appear to be associated with UNCG or North Carolina A&T.
UNCG police also addressed concerns about why they did not immediately send out an alert the night of the event, saying “the situation was contained. In order to protect and preserve the integrity of social media evidence related to the investigation, UNCG police waited to distribute a timely warning, as required by the Clery Act, until Saturday at approximately 2 p.m.”
Details of the incident are still under investigation.