By Kevin Murphy
March 8 (Reuters) - A pre-St. Patrick's Day party on Saturday in Massachusetts called "Blarney Blowout" turned violent with college students blocking traffic and destroying property as police in riot gear arrested 43 people, authorities said.
The gathering, traditionally held the last Saturday before spring break at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, brought thousands of students from campus onto surrounding streets by 10 a.m. EST (1500 GMT), Amherst police said a blog post. St. Patrick's Day is March 17.
Within about two hours, the crowd blocked traffic, got into fights, threw snowballs, cans and bottles, damaged vehicles and destroyed light poles, police said. Officers in riot gear, some struck by flying debris, tried to disperse the crowd, which police said got out of control.
Amherst officers were assisted by university and Massachusetts State Police.
The 43 arrests by Saturday evening included 18 for failure to disperse and inciting a riot and three for assault with a deadly weapon. Other charges included disorderly conduct, liquor law violations, breaking and entering, and assault and battery on an officer.
Four Amherst officers received minor injuries from thrown objects and combative people, police said. Police used pepper spray at times.
The University of Massachusetts condemned the disruptive actions of the "Blarney Blowout" participants. The university will review incidents involving arrested students, who are subject to expulsion or suspension, spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said in a statement. (Reporting by Kevin Murphy in Kansas City, Missouri; Editing by Lisa Shumaker)
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