Moments after UNC men’s basketball defeated Duke, a growing crowd of fans stood at all four corners of the intersection of Franklin and Columbia Streets, chanting “Tar” and “Heels” back and forth.
Then, as Chapel Hill Police officers stood by, many fans rushed to the intersection's center for the second time this year, defying UNC Community Standards and a state executive order meant to prevent the spread of COVID-19.
Last month, officers took over 35 minutes to clear the intersection. This crowd, which was substantially smaller, dispersed from the intersection for the resumption of traffic within five minutes. The crowd later regrouped for another brief period.
Senior Jobel Angela Barcoma said she chose to stand on the sidelines while students rushed to experience a UNC tradition.
“Part of it would be trying to experience what rushing is [like] as a UNC student,” Barcoma said.
Ran Northam, the interim communications manager for the Town of Chapel Hill, confirmed that Chapel Hill Police officers closed off the intersection for six minutes. There were at least 15 officers at the intersection during the rush.
"That was in response to celebrants in the street, and looking out for the safety of those in the street," Northam said.
The Town of Chapel Hill confirmed in a later statement that this closure was for the safety of the fans.
“Incoming traffic was detoured, and cars that were already in the intersection were directed around the closure," Town of Chapel Hill Emergency Management Coordinator Kelly Drayton said. "Our police officers were able to effectively and efficiently move the crowd from the intersection and back onto the sidewalks.”