Sunday, April 11, 2010

A Riot in This Town and I Missed It: JMU 2010 Springfest Riot

I've always wanted to be in a riot. Sure, it's dangerous, but so are rock climbing and bowling. I'm not sure what draws me to it--perhaps a thread of anti-authoritarianism sewed into my moral fiber, perhaps I'm just bored with the endless rhythm of the world, perhaps a combination of both. I'm not really sure.

The riot started as JMU student's annual spring block party. There are two every year--one takes place the weekend before classes, the other is in the springtime, just before people really have to start studying hard for finals. These have been going on since I started coming to the school, and I'm sure before that as well.

They usually take place in Forest Hills, a long strip of town homes just off JMU's campus. I've heard that the town homes' leases are passed from frat brother to frat brother, though I'm not sure how valid that is. The town homes are setup in an ideal form for a block party--they are just barely off campus and a large plot of grass sits between many of them, allowing party-goers to remain on private property and not be charged with drunk in public. Every year, many wander off the sidewalk and end up with a ticket or in jail. Nevertheless, this doesn't curtail the event.

This year, landlords apparently put a clause in many of the Forest Hills leases somehow preventing residents from holding the block party. This made little difference, as party-goers were still present in Forest Hills, and much of the party moved to Forest Hills Manor, just adjacent to Forest Hills. Forest Hills Manor is where most of the iconic video from the riot comes from, including this shot where riot police disperse a crowd with tear gas:

The event apparently met the conditions for a riot. It certainly looks like one--a giant bonfire, large crowd, and extensive property damage.

It's natural to say that it won't happen, but I doubt that. The only thing that would stop it is students in the area realizing that they don't want their town homes damaged, but they don't own the places. Partying is more important than property damage. Sex is what got us here, as human beings, and where there's alcohol, there are easy women. Alcohol, however, is limited to those over 21. In the university environment, most of the student population cannot access alcohol, so those who can easily draw a large amount of vagina and vagina-seekers to their doorstep.

These events and their responses draw attention to the ability of JMU students to hold parties. This can easily increase the number of attendees in the future.

All-in-all, something seems missing in the whole debacle. It's really hard to empathize with those fighting the police--the only reason they're there is to get drunk and score ass. My parent's generation engaged in altercations with the police, but they were protesting the Vietnam War, not trying to get hammered. If you're going to throw shit at cops, at least have a good reason for it.
"It's not history, it's a bad idea!"


Anonymous Anonymous said...


Monday, April 12, 2010 10:01:00 PM  

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