Bin Laden's death brings students, flags and cheers to MU's Greektown

Monday, May 2, 2011 | 10:13 p.m. CDT; updated 12:33 a.m. CDT, Tuesday, May 3, 2011

COLUMBIA — At 10:35 Sunday night, President Barack Obama announced to the nation that terrorist Osama bin Laden had been killed in Pakistan.

Within 30 minutes, crowds were gathering across Columbia, waving flags, cheering in the streets and setting off fireworks.

Greektown may have witnessed the biggest party of all. Students by the hundreds spilled out of their campus housing and assembled on Richmond Avenue.

They were lured by Facebook posts, word of mouth, noise on the streets and a continuous Twitter feed.

Based on first-hand reports, here is how it came together.

10:35 p.m.

At the White House, Obama announces that Osama bin Laden has been killed by U.S. special forces in Abbottabad, Pakistan.

11 p.m.

"I was walking toward Stankowski and could hear cheering from there. At first I thought it was a RecSports game going on. Then I started to see cars full of people driving by and waving flags, and they all sort of migrated toward Greektown.” — Luke Cherep, senior

“We were in one of the conference rooms (in the medical library), and the windows are always open. We heard screaming, and then we heard the national anthem. One of my friends who was there sent me a picture of everyone, and we were like, ‘Let’s go.’” — Caitlin Stumpe, junior

“We were sitting in our rooms, and we heard someone running around the hallways yelling, ‘Osama bin Laden was killed.’ ” — Athena Gieseler, junior

“People all over the place were driving around honking their horns. Then people started coming out into the streets and mingling, enjoying the moment. They were running up and down the street with American flags." — Kyle Broyles, senior

“One of my friends was like, ‘Hey, let's get in my truck,' and there were 21 of us in her truck bed driving around Greektown. Every time we drove around the block, there were more and more people in the street until finally we couldn’t get past anymore.”

“Cars were filled with people, waving flags and singing American theme songs, and the streets were covered with people. I was speechless about how many were out there.” — Meg Sterchi, junior

“People were in the sidewalks cheering and just flooding the streets. When the music started playing, people decided it was a night for celebration.” — Corey Gholson, freshman

11:30 p.m.

“I could hear the fireworks from the journalism building, but I didn’t know what they were. I didn’t actually know what was going on until I got there. Then, I realized that Osama bin Laden was dead.” — Hannah Burkett, sophomore

“When the cops came and blocked off the streets, it turned into a huge party. ... It basically doubled in size.” — Athena Gieseler

"The police were originally trying to get people out of the streets, but eventually they gave up and just became crowd control.” — Alison Hoesli, sophomore

“A policeman told us to just keep going and get off of the street, but then the crowd of people got too big in front of my car. So I had to turn the car off and get out and just wait. We were stuck in that one spot for about two and a half hours.” — Nick Kohlberg, sophomore

“We couldn’t even get (our car) down Richmond Avenue.” — Megan Betcher, sophomore


“My guess would be that there were about 1,000 people there when we got there." — Emily Chambers, junior

“I guess people just found out – I mean, you know how fast news travels on a college campus — and then I’m sure everyone on campus could hear it. Once I got there, I just started sending text messages to people I thought would enjoy it." — Madeline Brown, sophomore

“I had my pajamas on, so I put a sweater on over my T-shirt and changed into sweatpants. I figured it was something that was only going to happen once, and that I would regret it if I didn’t see what was going on.” — Lauren Bond, freshman 

1-3 a.m.

“People started bringing out toilet paper and a trampoline. They were piling on top of the cars that had been stopped at that point. There was a lot of mayhem going on. Then they started chanting 'USA' and singing American songs and the national anthem.” — Luke Cherep

“People started shooting off fireworks. Somebody set off a firework on the ground, in the middle of the crowd.” — Megan Betcher

“There was crowd surfing. A friend of mine dressed up as Uncle Sam. A lot of people had red, white and blue headbands with streamers and stuff on them.” — Athena Gieseler

“There was a ton of broken glass on the ground. ... I don’t know how the cleanup went this morning, but last night the streets were ridiculous.” — Alison Hoesli

3:30 a.m.

“There were little groups lingering around by then, but people really started leaving around 3:30.” — Jessica Turnure, sophomore

10 a.m.

“The (Greek people) all came together in the morning to clean up the mess we made. There were about 30 or so people cleaning from Delta Sigma Phi, Pi Kappa Alpha, Delta Tau Delta, Delta Chi and representatives from the Interfraternity Council.” — Kyle Broyles

“I walked around Greektown this morning, and it was actually really clean. It was interesting to see everybody coming together.” — Megan Betcher

“There was toilet paper and stuff everywhere. But this morning it was just gone.” — Alison Hoesli

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