Large block parties need supervision
Published: Wednesday, May 2, 2001
Updated: Saturday, June 16, 2012 00:06
Public response to the weekend riots here at Ohio State has been wide ranging and mixed, with one of the most troublesome views holding that nothing would have happened if the police weren’t there.
In a word: Wrong.
Look back less than two years ago — to Woodstock ‘99 — and see how a large crowd of our contemporaries acted when a minimal police presence was removed to deal with traffic problems. For the first two days, with the police around, there were no major problems or assaults; just drug arrests like you would expect from a huge rock concert. On the third day, most of the police were withdrawn to deal with the traffic problems of departing concertgoers.
Late that last night, during the Red Hot Chili Peppers rendition of “Fire,” several fires were set by rowdy concertgoers (beginning to sound familiar?). As they danced around the flames, others toppled speaker towers and light stands. Four semi-trailers full of concession foods were set on fire and revelers tried to tip over a radio station truck. They did manage to tip a trailer over, on top of five other people. Campers tents and merchants booths were wrecked and ransacked.
“Where are the police? Where are the firemen? Where are the people in control?” asked a concert attendee.
“These kids are animals. It should never have gotten this far.”
Does that sound familiar?
There was a 1,250-person security force present but not used — they lacked riot training. Five hundred riot-geared police showed up after an hour. By 2 a.m. only a few hundred out of thousands were still involved with the flames. The police let that isolated fire burn itself out and the people melted away.
During the time the police weren’t there, one person was seriously injured, six more taken to the hospital, and over a dozen rapes were reported. Remember, before the police had pulled out no assaults or injuries had been reported.
The moral of all this? Don’t place all the blame on the police.
Watching the videos and viewing the pictures taken by various people do raise some questions about appropriate use of force by the authorities, but there is no way the situation would have been helped by them not being there. Police are human — they make mistakes and act in anger — but consider the alternative.
It’s better to have to deal with gassing by police and to pursue legal recourse for alleged abuses, than to have to explain to someone why their son or daughter is in the hospital as a victim of an assault, rape — or laying in Franklin County morgue.