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October 28th, 2004

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04:34 am - 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]
state: angryfurious
np: Class of '99 - Another Brick In The Wall Part 2

(5 shots upside the head | en garde!)


Date:October 28th, 2004 04:47 am (UTC)
The more things change, the more they stay the same. People should know by now that the police will force them off the sidewalk if they are in downtown durham. The best predictor of future behavior is past behavior. Personally, I think it is just asking for trouble to go there, and I think that the "casual observers" just make it worse. I think most people who go to Durham after events like these are -expecting- to see a riot or some sort of raucous behavior, that is why they go. I guess I just don't understand it. People know it will happen, yet they still go.

If, for example, everytime you got close to a horse it kicked out at you, and almost hit you, would you still get close to the horse? Most people would stay away from the horse after having one kick aimed at them, or having heard that the horse likes to kick.

I'm not making excuses for the police, I don't believe in police brutality of this nature, but if you know that they will act that way, why provoke them? Is this really such a big issue that people are willing to get hurt or arrested over? Just because someone won a game?

Just some of my thoughts on the matter. Glad you weren't hurt Woody.
Date:October 28th, 2004 07:03 am (UTC)
One one hand, students should know that going downtown after any sort of large event will probably result in said described scene. One would think the kids would avoid it, especially since administration is so strict about it now.

On the other hand, what's wrong with going out in the street after a big game like the one last night? As long as no one's busting up property and the general mood of the crowd is happy and celebratory, then why not go out in the street and celebrate with complete strangers? It's such a good feeling to know that all these people around you are as happy as you are about the same thing. I don't think being out on the street and making noise is necessarily a riot....it's just a celebration.

Now, that being said, it does sound like the police were being complete fuckwads last night. Was the crowd getting violently rowdy? Were they breaking property? Or were they just kinda hanging out and being loud and celebrating probably one of the most historic sports moments of all time? Because if the police had a reason, ie, people were breaking windows and beating each other up and trying to steal street signs[1], then yeah, it's time for the police to get involved. However, it does seem they were ill prepared to deal with the crowd, and whoever thought that using a horse as crowd control was a good idea is an idiot. It's so dangerous to the people, not to mention the horse. I'm not a cop, and certainly can't think of a better plan to "control" a riot, but these people are supposedly trained professionals with knowledge on how to get control of a rowdy bunch of kids, if need be.

The thing that angers me most is if any of these kids were hurt, and they say that the cops had no idea what they were doing, probably no one will believe them. The cops will be like, "Uhh we were just doing our job, kids shouldn't riot, blah blah blah." I just don't understand why people can't come out and celebrate in the street....I do understand that UNH isn't really known to be unrowdy in it's post-sports game celebrations, but there's really no need to break up a crowd as long as they're not doing anything wrong.

[1] firstly, i'm ganking your footnote idea. thanks. secondly, as I was watching the riots on the news in Boston after the sox won the series with the Yankees, some kid was climbing a light pole trying to steal the Commonwealth Ave. street sign. This was the funniest thing I'd ever seen, because it was obviously bolted to the pole and it wasn't going anywhere, but the kid was just hanging on it, trying to figure out a way to take it. He must have been super drunk to think he was gonna take it.

Longest comment ever, and it probably doesn't even make sense. Oh well...I'm glad you survived the wild horses :0
[User Picture]
Date:October 29th, 2004 01:21 pm (UTC)

in defense of the police

I don't entirely agree with the idea that "there's really no need to break up a crowd as long as they're not doing anything wrong". It sounds great, and in a sense I think it's easy to agree with, but it was admitted by the previous commentor that "UNH isn't really known to be unrowdy in it's post-sports game celebrations". I remember hearing about the previous incidents at the school and I'm sure they stuck out in the minds of the officers as well. A gathering of a mass amount of people, especially when alcohol is involved, almost invariably leads to some sort of rowdiness which can easily be escalated to violence and trouble. So, with the mere presence of such a crowd in one place, most of them very likely having been drinking, and having a history of causing trouble in post game "celebrations" such as this, I think at least somewhat justifies the police action to try to curtail or disperse the crowd.

Also playing a factor in the minds of the police, most likely, were the incidents in Boston after the series against the Yankees (as a New Yorker, I almost self-centeredly wrote "the Yankees series). It's extremely unfortunate what happened regarding the young woman that died, but the the police were really only trying to do their best to handle a situation that was needlessly and completely out of hand[1]. I'm sure the Durham police and NH State troopers felt they had to handle things before it became a similar situation with perhaps similar, deadly, and frightening consequences. Even the possibility of such a situation should be enough to motivate an officer to action.

Finally, I don't think the police are completely off the hook. From Dan's reporting and what I gathered from the article, it seems that the officers were ill trained in riot and crowd control. While i don't think riding horses into the crowd is necessarily a bad idea, the method and manner that they did use the horses was probably ill advised. One would think with the previous history of UNH and the Boston area, they might have been motivated to receive such training. Then again, one doesn't know who's exactly in charge of these things or whether budget money is allocated for it. So maybe we shouldn't point the finger at the officers, but those in charge of their training and organization. I believe these men were just trying to do their job.

[1] Also have to steal the footnote idea......I see no reason why one must participate in turning their city into a mock-Fallujah because of the loss or victory of a sports team. I heard of one a story of a friend of mine getting jumped and beaten after the series against NY for no reason except his attackers were "celebrating." And no, said friend was not wearing anything that could even be mistaken for Yankees paraphanlia, nor had he instigated anything. Not to sound too highfalutin or anything, but we New Yorkers tend not to riot when our franchises win...or lose for that matter. And I even tend to think we managed to be relatively civil when the Republicans came to town. But these are arguments for another day i suppose.....
Date:October 29th, 2004 08:49 pm (UTC)

Re: in defense of the police

this has nothing to do with dan's entry, but is your userpic the old man and the sea?
Date:October 29th, 2004 08:50 pm (UTC)

Re: in defense of the police

ps - I'm dumb and just read your username, so I guess that answers my question.

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