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Sunday brawl on SUNY Potsdam campus leads to arrests and pepper spray

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POTSDAM — Police were called to an early morning brawl on SUNY Potsdam Campus Sunday where students were pepper sprayed resulting in seven arrests.

Students from SUNY Potsdam, SUNY Canton and Clarkson University were leaving a student organized dance at Barrington Student Union building on the campus when SUNY Potsdam University Police responded to multiple fights shortly after 1 a.m.

Police were forced to use pepper spray in the incident and said there were minor injuries reported, including a Potsdam police officer who received scrapes to his knees when taking a suspect into custody.

The people who were peppered-sprayed were treated by flushing the affected area with water, Potsdam Police Lt. Mark R. Murray said.

Lt. Murray said the fighting and lack of compliance on behalf of those involved in the fight seemed to escalate once police arrived.

“Once we arrived there were some less than cordial exchanges,” Lt. Murray said. “The persons we arrested made highly graphic, vulgar and defamatory comments toward the police presence and refused to comply with lawful orders to disperse.”

It took police about a half an hour to break up the incident and have everyone disperse, Lt. Murray said.

“In the past we have seen similar issues like this come up, but this seemed like a random thing with a high turnout for the event,” Lt. Murray said.

Potsdam Police charged Deondre J. Riley, 19, of the Bronxand Andrew M. Williams, 20, Brooklyn, with disorderly conduct, a violation, and resisting arrest, a class A misdemeanor. Riley was arrested on two counts of the latter charge.

Williams and Riley were issued tickets returnable to Potsdam Village Court.

University Police arrested Bourou A Diakite, 18, Rushton 202, 34 Cornell Drive, Samuel R. Addei, 19, Heritage 306, 34 Cornell Drive, Michael Diaz, 20, Canton. All three men were charged with disorderly conduct and were issued appearance tickets returnable to Potsdam Village Court.

University Police also arrested Terrence L. Carter Jr., 19, Heritage 110, 34 Cornell Drive, and Malik Moore, 18, Canton. Both men were charged with disorderly conduct and resisting arrest and issued appearance tickets returnable to Potsdam Village Court.

SUNY Potsdam spokeswoman Alexandria M. Jacobs said out of the approximate 270 people who attended the dance, an estimated 20 people were involved in incident.

“While the preliminary investigation showed that those involved were not SUNY Potsdam students, that has not yet been fully substantiated,” Ms. Jacobs said in a release.

Ms. Jacobs said she wasn’t certain how the dance was advertised to those that turned out but that the university’s Office of Campus Life, a division of the college that oversees student associations and organizations, would have been responsible for approving the event.

No one from Campus Life was available for comment Monday night.

“It has to be registered through that office with the added details,” Ms. Jacobs said. “Obviously it is something that has been and will be looked into as a follow up to all of this.”

SUNY Canton Media Relations Manager Gregory E. Kie said that all but one of the individuals arrested were students of SUNY Canton. Mr. Williams was a visitor to the area, police said.

“(The) five other students involved in the altercation were arrested by SUNY Potsdam University Police and put on interim suspension pending a SUNY Canton college judicial hearing,” Mr. Kie said in a statement. “SUNY Canton has a zero-tolerance policy for violence and College officials are disappointed in the actions of the students involved. These students do not reflect the majority of SUNY Canton students, who are able to attend events at other campuses without incident.”

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