A recurring feature, Fordham Files serves as Fordham’s very own DeLorean DMC-12 time machine, where we unearth forgotten antics and untold stories for all to revel in. Whether it be 50 or five years ago, we’ll share the Fordham stories you haven’t heard before.
On a typical Saturday night around Fordham’s Tri-Bar, drunk Rams are often found fumbling in and out of Howl or Mugzs, either dancing in the streets or puking between parked cars. These party people are prime meat for Bronx cops, and on weekends along Arthur Avenue, the famous Italian cuisine just ain’t cutting it for the fuzz. Don’t think you’re going to get away with prancing down Belmont Ave. with a 22 oz of Heinken in hand, because a public consumption of alcohol ticket will be waiting for you at the intersection. Caught in the act of public urination? Well, that’s just embarrassing.
While these are just minor offenses that Fordhamites have endured around Tri-Bar, one weekend almost ten years ago trumps all, where summonses were handed out like candy and an Arthur Avenue upheaval began.
I first learned about the ‘Spring Weekend Riot of 2004’ when I interviewed Suits from Mugzs. He recounted “troops with shields and batons” and said dozens of Fordham students were arrested.
I had no idea what he was talking about, and admit to a little healthy skepticism. I couldn’t believe a Mugzs crowd had used bagels as weaponry against a “S.W.A.T.” team.
But, lo and behold, soon after we published our story, an email from Murph, an FCRH ’04 alum, confirmed Suits’ memory and filled in some of the details.
So, there wasn’t exactly a S.W.A.T team, but on May 2, 2004, Fordham students found themselves in a tussle with NYPD police in full riot gear. Apparently, Bronx locals had called the police regarding noise complaints around Tri-Bar. After various bars had been raided and about 300 Fordham students were thrown out, kids poured onto the surrounding streets.
According to an article published in Fordham’s The Ram in May 2004 (pictured), the cops tried to get students out of the street, but the Rams wouldn’t budge, allegedly continuing to drink in front of authorities and even take pictures standing next to them. One student pushed a police officer, further escalating the scene and prompting Spring Weekenders to shout “We won’t go!” All hell broke loose when people began throwing bottles into the streets from their apartments. Eventually, twelve “rioters” were arrested for disorderly conduct and resisting arrest, and many of the guys that were cuffed had no idea what for.
“I had the hell beat out of me by four or five cops with maglites, and my face was repeatedly slammed into the pavement before I got arrested,” said Murph. “My charge was obstructing vehicular traffic, but I was standing on the sidewalk, just down the street from Mugzs.”
While most of the men arrested were able to get their charges dropped the next day, a few had their time at Fordham cut short. “They expelled a few kids with previous issues, and tried to expel more of us (despite it being off-campus), but the student wing of the disciplinary board hung tight for us,” said Murph.
John Carroll, Director of FCRH Security, was not amused by the outbreak.
“I believe that the majority of the students out there were simply having a good time,” said Carroll. “There were only a select few who, when they got out there, conducted themselves so childishly that they brought disgrace on themselves as young and men and women, and brought disgrace on their university.”
Carroll also added that students that had been arrested and put in jail for the night shouldn’t be complaining. “The police were charitable,” said Carroll. “These students were only charged with minor things, like disorderly conduct. They could have been charged with inciting to riot, or even rioting.”
Getting your head slammed against the pavement sounds like grounds for a complaint to me. Based on the rather low-key history of Fordham’s nightlife, it seemed improbable that police officers would ever have to don their riot gear on Arthur Avenue. I now know to never mess with Bronx cops, but most importantly, to never underestimate the word of Suits.