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The Daily Wildcat

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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    “Students show, team doesn’t”

    Even without an official Zona Zoo-sponsored camp-out, students still lined up on the lawn outside McKale Center all night in anticipation of Saturday’s Arizona basketball game against No. 4 North Carolina.

    Although Zona Zoo announced the lining up would begin officially at 5:30 a.m. Saturday, it began unofficially at 10:15 p.m. Friday night when a group of four dug in for the night with blankets and cards in hand, including Eric Kolb, a criminal justice freshman.

    “”We had it in our mind we wanted to make sure we got the front row so we could paint ourselves up and to get on TV,”” Kolb said in a phone interview yesterday. “”Lame as it is, that’s what we wanted to do.””

    During the wait, students played football and Monopoly, while others cooked burgers and warmed their hands in front of a fire.

    You could hear the clicking of the voltage going through to him. Everyone was taking pictures on their camera phone. Five to 10 minutes after the tasering, they took him out of sight.– Kyle Heckel, chemical engineering sophomore

    Around 8 a.m., the peacefulness of the student gathering was disrupted when police got involved and a student was tasered.

    The student appeared to be intoxicated and threw up outside of Eddie Lynch Athletics Pavilion trying to stand on the glass tile near the north side of McKale Center, said Margaret Nissen, a psychology sophomore was nearby.

    UAPD Sgt. Eugene Mejia said the student was confronted by an officer and refused commands.

    The student was unable to stand and kept slipping, Nissen added. When a police officer saw him, the student didn’t come down and resisted authority, so the officer called for backup.

    The police “”were telling (him) everything to do, and he was ignoring them,”” said Kyle Heckel, a chemical engineering sophomore. “”You could hear the clicking of the voltage going through to him. Everyone was taking pictures on their camera phone. Five to 10 minutes after the tasering, they took him out of sight.””

    In addition to the tasering, Mejia said the police dealt with “”a multitude of problems”” with the line, many of which had to do with alcohol.

    Mejia could not comment further because he won’t have access to police reports until today.

    Students at the front of the line were concerned whether they would be able to keep their spots, but that turned out to be a non-issue when a group of students took charge of the situation.

    Kolb said the group figured it should get organized before security arrived to prevent any problems, so the line that started on the grassy area in front of McKale was moved to the ramp area that marked the official line around 3 a.m. After that, no big problems occurred.

    “”It was really easy,”” Kolb said. “”We knew that we didn’t want to lose our spot in line, so we had to make sure we got ourselves organized so security wouldn’t think there were any problems with us.””

    Zona Zoo originally planned to sponsor an organized camp-out for the sold-out game, but Zona Zoo director Michael Huston was forced to call it off because the Zona Zoo budget could not afford the thousands of dollars a campout would cost.

    Although Huston said the camp-out would have started earlier with more entertainment and organization if Zona Zoo sponsored it, he added, “”I don’t know that there would have been a great deal of difference.””

    Not all the interaction between students and police was confrontational.

    Around 2 a.m. Saturday, Zona Zoo policy chair Nick Sproul warned students the police would stop by around 3 a.m. to kick people out of the area, which by that time was filled with more than 100 students.

    Some of them may have been nervous when a pair of policewomen pulled into the Cherry Street Garage around 2:30 a.m., but they weren’t there to kick the students out.

    “”They’re not breaking the law,”” said UAPD Officer Jean Brown.

    Instead of telling the students to leave, Brown informed the crowd that the bathrooms at the Sun Tran station in front of the Lynch Pavilion were open.

    “”That’s kind of like the exact opposite response we were expecting,”” said Garret Picchioni, an undeclared junior who arrived at midnight.

    Although the outcome of the game was not quite what the students who waited all night expected, Huston called the overall campout a tremendous success.

    “”Everything went well for the most part,”” Huston said. “”People enjoyed themselves, there very few problems, the event was safe, it was fun for most people, and it was successful.””

    – Justin Adler contributed to this report

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