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Title: Christian group leader: 17 UT students arrested were playing Tag

Source: knoxnews.com, September 4th, 2009

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Christian group leader: 17 UT students arrested were playing Tag

KNOXVILLE - Seventeen male University of Tennessee students arrested for fighting Thursday night on Cumberland Avenue were playing a "glorified game of tag," said Britton Sharp, director of UT's chapter of Campus Crusade for Christ.

Sharp said men, all members of the on-campus Christian group, were playing "Fugitive," an outdoor tag-like team game popular with many UT students, Sharp said. It was a social activity planned for male students following a regular Thursday night Bible study, he said.

But Knoxville Police Department spokesman Darrell DeBusk contends the men told the officers they were playing Fuzion, a role-playing game involving combat, and said they were "fighting and running down Cumberland Avenue" around 10 p.m. when officers intervened and ordered them to sit on the ground.

"Some were in headlocks with people trying to choke others out," DeBusk said. "There were citizens in the area during the fighting. All 17 males were not only putting themselves in danger of serious bodily injury, but the citizens that were walking on the sidewalk as well."

Sharp said the incident was "a big miscommunication."

"We want to make it clear, we appreciate what all officers do to keep (the community) safe," Sharp said. "We understand how tensions can run high" on the weekend of UT's first home football game of the season.

But Debusk said the officers acted appropriately to stop what they saw as a dangerous situation, not a harmless game.

"It's all fun and games until someone gets hurt and posisbly killed," DeBusk said. "At that time it's no longer fun. At that time it's too late."

Sharp said the students were "totally cooperative" and "respectful" and were released after being taken to jail, processed and charged with disorderly conduct, for which they will appear in court at a later date.

Before leaving the jail, "our guys had prayer time with some of the inmates," Sharp said.

More details as they develop online and in Saturday's News Sentinel.

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