October 28th, 2004

alien chest burst

letter i just sent to tnh...

The Police's Turn to Riot

I am absolutely disgusted with the police right now. Their behavior tonight was so incredibly irresponsible and stupid, not to mention unnecessary - and especially so soon after someone was murdered by crowd control police in Boston - that I simply could not believe it. The police action tonight comes much closer to being a riot than anything the students were doing.
I don't claim to objectively speak for everyone there and everything that went on, certainly, but I will say what I saw. I got downtown soon after the end of the game, and people were standing on the sidewalks, cheering and celebrating. Many were drunk, I'm sure. Everyone was happy and pleasant; the most the crowd could be accused of is being loud.
I was on the far side of the street from campus, just past Franz's. I am no good at estimation, but suffice to say, there was a buttload of kids on that sidewalk. A row of police began to advance on us, forcing us back towards campus, as they yell for us to leave. Of course, one row of people on a mission move faster than a crowd of giddy drunks, so people being pressed between the crowd and the shoving, shouting police moved into the street. Note that prior to our being herded out there, the police were the only ones in the street, clogging what little traffic there was with their cars and motorcycles. Also note that people who were not able to escape this push by going onto the street were instead jostled and shoved towards the crowds. I saw at least 5 people trip and fall. Thankfully those around them helped them to their feet.
Now that everyone is getting agitated, the fantastic decision is made that cops on horses should ride INTO the crowds. Not past, near, or even alongside: they rode directly into and through the crowds. These were not even proper horses to have in crowds; they were clearly nervous and would move suddenly, bumping and knocking into people. In a beautiful example of blaming the victim, I saw one horse walk directly into a man, who was then angrily informed by a nearby officer that touching the horses was a felony. If you don't want them touched, don't use them as weapons. People, of course, were still being pressed against the crowd faster than it is able to disperse, and many are still tripping. If no one tonight was trampled or otherwise seriously injured, I will be surprised. I saw someone getting carried off, and soon after overheard from a police-car radio about someone being unconscious.
My first bit of advice to the police would be to recognize basic laws of physics. The vast majority of people, when ordered to walk in a direction which is blocked by a tree or a bush or a large crowd, cannot simply dematerialize and stroll through the obstacle. Yelling, threatening, and being belligerent will not enable your target to move faster than all the people directly in front of them, no matter how often you interrupt their telling you this by again shouting MOVE IT, CHILDREN. My next bit of advice is that, if you really must use horses as weapons, and you are gently suggesting I move in a certain direction by riding your horse directly at me (i.e., assault), at least try to herd me in a direction which would not involve my walking directly into the path of yet another horse which cleverly went into the crowd ahead of where I was to completely surround us. Buildings to the right, cars to the left, horses ahead and behind, and the police expect us to quickly and smoothly disperse. It is generally a bad tactic to corner the people you are trying to drive off. It is a much worse tactic to ride your horse right up into the crowd, inviting the occurrence of more awful events than I care to list. Look up the weight of a good-sized horse, and use your imagination.
In short, this was an astoundingly irresponsible display by the police of negligence, disregard for the safety of both the crowds and their horses, needlessly aggressive tactics, and general abject stupidity. Whoever oversaw this mess should be fed to the horses.

[and here is an article in fosters. thanks deb]
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