Dayton Students Flood Streets After Campus Shut Down Over Coronavirus, Police Shoot 'Pepper Balls'


Police officers launched pepper balls into a crowd of disorderly University of Dayton students who had flooded neighborhood streets after the school announced it was canceling in-person classes until at least early April in response to the coronavirus.

Dayton Police and the University of Dayton Police had responded to a report of a crowd of over 1,000 people who refused to leave Lowes Street late Tuesday, WHIO-TV reported.

Students were reportedly jumping on cars and threw bottles into the street and at police. When the police officers’ directions to disperse were ignored, they launched pepper balls into the crowd, which students reported were filled with tear gas.

“At first it was just some of our friends who are seniors all getting together and hanging out on Lowes before we had to go away for about three weeks or more. And then it kind of escalated,” senior Lena Richardson told WHIO.

“Police kind of took it the wrong way and started gassing everyone. We were all coughing. Several people had to come inside my house to recover from it.”

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The university released a statement outlining the events of the evening, the Dayton Daily News reported.

“Police gave verbal orders to disperse which were ignored. Police initially launched pepper balls, which contain powder with an irritant that disperses quickly, that were unsuccessful in reducing the crowd size,” the statement said.

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“About 2:15 a.m., UD police and additional Dayton police again gave orders to disperse and moved to clear the street, which was effective in dispersing the crowd quickly. At least one person was reportedly injured by a thrown bottle.”

It is currently unknown how many arrests were made, according to WLWT.

A series of pictures from the scene posted by the Dayton Daily News showed police in riot gear and streets filled with trash and debris.

The raucous started after the University of Dayton tweeted that in-person classes were suspended beginning at 8 a.m. Wednesday morning because of the coronavirus outbreak across the country.

“Remote online course instruction will be instituted after spring break, beginning March 23 and continuing through at least April 6,” the tweet read.

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On-campus housing will also be closed starting at 6 p.m. Wednesday evening and students were instructed to “take any items necessary to continue their education from home as well as other essential items in case time away is extended.”

The University of Dayton is just one of many schools that have suspended in-person classes in response to the coronavirus outbreak, CNN reported.

Some of those schools include Ohio State University, Harvard University, University of California, Los Angeles and Duke University.

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Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. A University of Oregon graduate, Erin has conducted research in data journalism and contributed to various publications as a writer and editor.
Erin Coates was an editor for The Western Journal for over two years before becoming a news writer. She grew up in San Diego, California, proceeding to attend the University of Oregon and graduate with honors holding a degree in journalism. During her time in Oregon, Erin was an associate editor for Ethos Magazine and a freelance writer for Eugene Magazine. She has conducted research in data journalism, which has been published in the book “Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future.” Erin is an avid runner with a heart for encouraging young girls and has served as a coach for the organization Girls on the Run. As a writer and editor, Erin strives to promote social dialogue and tell the story of those around her.
Tucson, Arizona
Graduated with Honors
Bachelor of Arts in Journalism, University of Oregon
Books Written
Contributor for Data Journalism: Past, Present and Future
Prescott, Arizona
Languages Spoken
English, French
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Health, Entertainment, Faith