Newark, UD police give new details on "shmacking" incident

By Tom Lehman 1:54am, September 24, 2013 - Updated 4:27pm, September 24, 2013
Photo Courtesy of Amanda Pond.
The disorderly crowd of as many as 3,000 University of Delaware students that paraded through the streets of Newark earlier this month initially caught authorities off guard according to law enforcement officials who spoke at a City Council meeting on Monday.

"It was something nobody could really predict. It was part of that social media phenomena I guess," said Newark Police Chief Paul Tiernan.

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Officers were called to a house on the 400 block of South College Avenue around 11:30 p.m. on Sept. 9 for a large party involving a DJ. The festivities were broken up by officers but police say the crowd began walking up the road to Main Street with some students climbing on top of cars and blocking traffic.

A total of 75 officers from three other agencies, including the university's police department, were called to help with crowd control and dispersal of the mob.

Many students associated their participation in the incident with the presence of I'm Shmacked, a digital media company that records video of college parties and posts the footage on websites like YouTube.

University police Chief Patrick Ogden said officers who monitor social media weren't aware of I'm Shmacked, which prevented officers from identifying the possibility of a large-scale party.

"It was kind of late in the day, we weren't familiar with I'm Shmacked and when you're looking through social media stuff you're looking for a certain tagline," Ogden said, noting staff members often use Twitter hashtags such as #BlueHens.

Three people--two students and a cameraman with I'm Shmacked--were arrested during the incident. Two students who city police say jumped on top of a car and caused "a couple thousand dollars" in damage were also arrested days after officers released photos of their faces.

Last week, officers released photos of 11 more people who police believe may have been participants in the mob.

Ogden said the school's men's Rugby team, which is not varsity and operates as a club sport, has been banned from meeting as a group, holding practices or competing on campus until spring semester 2018. The punishment came down after a university investigation found the party occurred at a house affiliated with the team.

However, he says the team can appeal that decision.

Tiernan and university officials said they are exploring the possibility of legal options against I'm Shmacked, such as a civil suit.

"Basically we're just looking to see if there's recourse for the costs of the services there or the damage or anything like that. I haven't heard from

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yet," Tiernan said.

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