After the Gonzaga men’s basketball Elite Eight win against University of Southern California Tuesday, large groups of Zags raced to the streets of Nora and Cincinnati with little regard to COVID-19 compliance standards and Gov. Jay Inslee’s Washington Roadmap to Recovery plan.
According to Spokane news station, KREM, the Spokane Police Department (SPD) arrived at the scene around 6:30 p.m. after receiving numerous calls about the mass gathering and burning of a couch. An SPD Officer, John O’Brien, said about 400 students were gathered there, KREM reported.
An Instagram Reels video posted on the account, @5thyear, showcases the extent of the mass gathering.
President Thayne McCulloh tweeted in response Tuesday around 7 p.m.
“Students: Celebrating the Zags’ victory tonight is awesome, but non-compliance with @SpokanePD and @GonzagaCSPS is unlawful and completely unacceptable. @GonzagaU must support law enforcement in their efforts, so let’s move the celebrations back into compliance,” McCulloh said in the tweet.
However, SPD was not enforcing COVID-19 regulations or compliance standards while on the scene of the mass gathering and no one was arrested. According to another local news outlet, KXLY, SPD was there to make sure no [students] got hurt.
A response from Gonzaga Student Body Association’s President, Fese Elango, and Vice President, Taylor Sipila, was sent out to students today via email.
“It needs to be said that yesterday’s actions after the Zags game on Cincinnati and Nora are unacceptable, embarrassing, and harmful to the greater Spokane Community,” Elango and Sipila said in the statement. "There is no excuse for 400+ unmasked students to gather while burning a couch in the midst of the Logan neighborhood. It is irresponsible, puts vulnerable lives at risk and is overall not the Zag pride we should be looking to be affiliated with.”
They also emphasized the large COVID-19 spike on GU’s campus with a positivity rate of 3.83% last week.
Student organizations and clubs took to social media platforms, such as Instagram, to share their condemnation of the mass gathering and to call upon the university to hold participating students accountable.
“Partying in a vulnerable neighborhood is in no way aligned with allyship of our BIPOC community members nor is posing for photos with the #3 most dangerous police force in the nation, nor is refusing to condemn such behavior,” Students Empowering Women (SEW), a GU club, said in an Instagram post.
This statistic mentioned by SEW was determined by research collaborative Mapping Police Violence and its police accountability tool that measures which police departments, from 100 of the largest U.S. cities, are most, and least, likely to kill people from January 2013 to December 2019. It reported that in Spokane during this time frame, Black people were killed at 3.3 times the rate of white people. SPD's average annual rate of killings by police during this time frame was reported as 9.9 per 1 million people.
McCulloh released a statement nearly 24 hours later, Wednesday at 5 p.m., to the student body.
"Washington State is still in a state of emergency, with public health as a primary focus and concern," McCulloh said. "Such gatherings are unlawful and put people at risk."
He said there are three things to consider. First, Campus Security and Public Safety (CSPS) and SPD have met to review and evaluate yesterday's mass gathering. Second, the university plans on taking action in regards to students who violated the law and/or the University's Student Code of Conduct. Third, the university will be expanding the voluntary walk-in testing clinic to three days a week, beginning next week.
"I ask all of us to be mindful of the fact that over the coming days, in the eyes of the local and national media, each member of our university community is representing Gonzaga University," McCulloh said.
Students can fill out GU’s COVID-19 compliance form if they know of students who are violating COVID-19 standards: https://www.gonzaga.edu/zagon/compliance-with-covid-19-guidelines.
In regards to the methodology of Mapping Police Violence, "This information has been meticulously sourced from the three largest, most comprehensive and impartial crowdsourced databases on police killings in the country: FatalEncounters.org, the U.S. Police Shootings Database and KilledbyPolice.net. We've also done extensive original research to further improve the quality and completeness of the data; searching social media, obituaries, criminal records databases, police reports and other sources to identify the race of 90 percent of all victims in the database," the research collaborative said on its website.
Additionally, the website said that the rates of police killings were calculated using police killings data from January 2013 to December 2019, along with 2010 US Census population data by race and crime data from the FBI Uniform Crime Reports. Police departments included in this analysis reflect the police forces of the 100 largest U.S. cities. The average police killings rate was calculated per 1 million people across 100 cities researched.
According to the Spokane Police Department, the way in which this data was researched and calculated does not accurately reflect the department's annual average rate of killings during this time frame per Spokane's population size.