Courts & Crime

Arrest of 30 football fans on field roils Missouri campus

JEFFERSON CITY — Often when students get arrested on campus, their cause is a serious one — war, injustice or maybe even rising tuition.

For the "Faurot Field 30," the cause was football and the moment was one of celebration.

At the height of the University of Missouri's collective euphoria over beating top-ranked Oklahoma last Saturday — and as thousands of spectators poured out of the stands and onto the gridiron — campus police nabbed the 30, handcuffed them and cited them for trespassing.

University officials maintain that entering the field posed serious safety risks and that fans had ample warning of what would happen.

But the arrests have enflamed students, parents, alumni and even the area's state senator. They're calling the university's actions unfair, hypocritical and worse.

"My view of the situation is complete and total outrage," said Bonnie Deem of St. Charles, whose son, Chris Deem, was among those arrested.Sen. Kurt Schaefer, a Columbia Republican, said he wants those arrested to perform community service rather than face criminal charges. "This is selective prosecution," he said. "It's a problem to single out just those 30 for arrest."

But for now, the university is moving toward prosecution. University spokeswoman Mary Jo Banken said Tuesday the cases would be turned over to the city of Columbia prosecutor's office, which will then decide how to proceed with charges.

Banken did not return numerous calls seeking additional comment on Wednesday.

An official at the prosecutor's office said it had not received any cases involving trespassing at the stadium and typically doesn't receive them until 10 to 14 days after tickets are written. First-degree trespassing is a misdemeanor punishable by a fine of up to $500 and imprisonment of up to six months.

Also upset with the arrests is the Missouri Students Association, the undergraduate student-government organization on campus.

"We have to stand up for the students," MSA President Tim Noce was quoted in the Columbia Missourian newspaper.

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