Greektown erupts in wake of bin Laden death announcement

No arrests and one report of vandalism were recorded Sunday night and Monday morning.
Students gather between the Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Delta Pi Greek houses Sunday night to celebrate the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden. The celebration lasted into the early hours of Monday morning.

An array of red, white and blue streamers, dozens of American flags and hours of “U.S.A.” chants swept across campus following President Barack Obama’s announcement of the death of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden.

Students immediately took the streets, particularly in Greektown, following Obama’s national address explaining the situation. Students raced from across campus to join in the impromptu celebration that congregated on Richmond Avenue between Gamma Phi Beta and Alpha Delta Pi’s houses.

“I’m shocked,” freshman Jana Lynch said. “It feels like people dropped everything to come and find a car to hop in.”

Alphi Chi Omega house mother, Marilyn Rose Thudium, said after she heard the news and saw the Tri-Delta sorority sisters running outside, she took to the streets herself.

“I’ve never seen anything like this,” Thudium said.

Thudium, a long-time resident of Brookfield, Mo., said this celebration surpassed what she saw following the end of World War II.

“I couldn’t miss it,” she said of the Greektown celebration.

The MU Police Department showed up shortly after the parade started and took to blocking off ends of Richmond Avenue. The crowd continued to grow as many students jumped into cars with American flags in hand. Songs like “Party in the U.S.A.” “American Soldier,” “We Like to Party” and “I Gotta Feeling,” provided the soundtrack to the night.

Some students spent the night draped in American, Army and Air Force flags. Empty boxes of patriotic popsicles littered the streets following the movement of the crowd.

Freshman Brittany Dick said she thought the Greektown celebration showed that students care more about the issues than people assume.

“We do care about the issues,” she said. “Our generation gets a bad rap for not caring about these sorts of things, but this shows that we do.”

Night shift officers from both MUPD and the Columbia Police Department were dispatched to the area to control the crowds. No arrests were made and only one report of vandalism was filed that occurred outside of the Alpha Delta Pi.

"Our officers were on patrol," MUPD Capt. Brian Weimer said. "We simply blocked off the street to provide safety. There were no arrests made and no one was injured."

Columbia's city ordinances prohibit exhibitions which block the street and interfere with traffic, but CPD decided to shift their focus to directing traffic elsewhere, CPD spokeswoman Jill Wieneke said.

"The night shift officers decided the best thing to do would be to block the street off," she said. "It was more of a celebration than a riot. Because of that, they decided to just kind of observe it."

Wieneke said that while alcohol was likely present, police chose to focus on crowd control rather than issuing open container violations.

"Whenever we deal with any kind of large crowd situation, something we look at is if we are going to cause more of a problem when we are choosing to worry about an open container ticket when in reality that’s a small, minor thing." she said.

Celebration in Greektown

Students took to the streets of Greektown with flags and fireworks in hand to celebrate the killing of Al Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden on Sunday night and early Monday morning.

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