(For clarification, throughout this post, I use “students” and “attendees” interchangeably to describe people who attended College Fest or, in some cases, the specific attendees who were agitators.)
About the riots….
It’s so tempting to make comparisons to the May 4, 1970 shootings, so I’m glad people seem to realize it’s not a good comparison, judging by the comments I’ve been reading online.
This comment in particular started off well and then turned to crap:
I understand that there really is no comparison, Collegefest 2012 was just a drunken festival for fun that led to violence […] But what I take from it, is that no matter what, at this age we need a cause. We need something to fight for and stand up for. If not, we will attempt to fight against establishment with no particular reason, other than for the fight itself. We’re restless because we are caught somewhere between the simplicity of childhood and the maturity of adulthood.
OK… but what exactly are these people “fighting for”? The right to be left alone? That “right” was lost as soon as, according to the Record-Courier story, “multiple party attendees were transported to area hospitals because of injuries sustained in fights.”
Yes, college = parties, but that doesn’t mean students are “entitled” to them. The ability to close off a city street for an entire day, litter it with broken glass, and not be expected to clean up any of it? That’s not a “right.” It’s an extremely generous privilege. And with that extremely generous privilege, I think the very least the community can ask of the attendees is to (a) refrain from throwing glass bottles at people, (b) identify anyone who throws glass bottles at people and assist police officers’ efforts to apprehend them, and (c) refrain from interfering with police who are trying to deal with the fact that someone was throwing glass bottles at people. Again, that is asking extremely little of the attendees. Actually, those things shouldn’t even need asked; any sane person would do that without being asked.
Frankly, I can’t imagine why the city would continue to allow this to happen every year if people are going to get hurt. Someone injured by a glass bottle could theoretically sue the city for failing to properly police an unsanctioned event that had spilled from private property onto a city street - although prior precedent suggests the city wouldn’t be found guilty, why should it take the risk of getting into that mess? Plus, Portage County taxpayers should be furious at the cost of deploying so many officers, ambulances and SWAT officers to the scene. Then they should be doubly outraged that more than a thousand people have already made plans to attend an identical gathering at the exact same spot a week later.
I think the students come out of this looking worse than the police do, especially since it’s clear that students were first to use force, thus giving the police all the rationale it needs to enter the situation. It’s unfortunate for the students that they don’t realize the way in which police are partially in the wrong as well.
When officers use force, they must fill out a “use of force” report so that the department is transparent about the actions it took. When the previous College Fest riots occurred in 2009, Kent police never filled out such reports. I highly doubt we’ll see any reports from this instance, either.
Attendees, especially those heavily affected by the use of tear gas, should be making noise about this! Will the police department discipline the officers who failed to fill out the “use of force” report? Because technically, the police used force incorrectly if it failed to report the use of force.
But nobody’s going to talk about that. People are going to base their judgments on the videos going viral on YouTube. Sure, they’re going to see police throwing flashbangs and tear gas dangerously close to students. But they’re also going to see that students were responding to that in a completely bone-headed way: by throwing objects at the police.
Police got an absolutely terrible reputation during last year’s Occupy protests. You know why? Because the police’s use of force was a clear and undeniable overreaction in contrast to the behavior of the protestors. At UC Davis, protestors were sitting down silently, and a police officer pepper-sprayed them at point-blank range. In Oakland, a handful of protestors were tending to an injured guy, and a police officer threw a flashbang directly at them.
That argument won’t work in this instance. People were throwing glass bottles; police responded by throwing flashbangs and tear gas - look, I’m willing to hear a rational argument that using tear gas was too much. But that’s gonna be a difficult argument to make when students responded to the tear gas by throwing glass bottles at the police. Students caused College Fest to get out of hand. Case closed.
- jodymichael posted this