It’s truly been eye opening the past few days in the aftermath of the KSC rioting. Not the pumpkinfest rioting as that didn’t happen but because the students participating have hijacked #pumpkinfest people nationwide have connected the two. Including the media. Good Morning America is one example of the outlets continually saying that Keene State College had the pumpkinfest. They didn’t. I did tweet @GMA saying they need to get their facts straight but no response.
I also tweeted @drgoddess randomly. I was just trying to clarify that they were two separate events and how I found it upsetting that #pumpkinfest was turning negative. It led to a very interesting exchange. Which is extremely difficult to do on Twitter when you are limited to 140 characters and when you add in tag names it gets limited even more.
I was coming from the point of view that the cops did a fabulous job stopping the riot from spilling into the festival. I didn’t realise until the middle of the exchange that people are comparing this with Ferguson and the police response there. It was basically if white kids riot they get tear gassed, if black kids riot they get killed. This rocked me back.
As a disclaimer, I don’t have much faith in police as a general rule. My experiences with them have not been positive. Ranging from them royally screwing up my Grammy’s murder investigation, to not caring that my car along with several others got broken in, to here in Keene when one cop stood with me in my front garden with my kids looking on and basically saying it was on me to come up with solutions against those breaking the law, not him. I’ve seen two incidences where cops stepped up. The first was again in our front garden in the middle of the night when a drunk guy was beating his girlfriend. They came quickly and dealt with it. The second time was this past weekend.
This is a video taken by, I think, a student. There are a few examples of why this is different from Ferguson.
First, in this country there is a gross disparity between how blacks are treated and how whites are treated. This is a valid argument that needs to desperately be resolved. Stealing cigarettes and causing trouble by walking down the street should never end in a death sentence. And if a young man is put into the back of a cruiser and for some reason does go crazy, instead of shooting him, leave the cruiser. And the Ferguson police lost further credibility by trying to arrest journalists for reporting on the story. Sadly this scenario happens too often in our big cities.
However, I honestly don’t see that happening here. Even though we are a very small city we are quite diverse. Not only do we have whites and African Americans we also have Indian, Asian, African, and European. We have poor and rich folk going about our business without too many incidences. The vast majority of us look at character and how you treat others rather than what you are wearing or what you look at.
In the video the cameraman seemed to start off by trying to show that the police were being excessive as the police were lined up in riot gear. He asked one student about it and the guy said no there were people throwing things which is why the police were there.
Then it shows an African American man approach the police. He did put his hands up briefly which is smart for anyone approaching riot police. He went up to the police, spoke then shook hands with one of the cops. He turned round and said that the cops need people to leave the street.
There are a few minutes when the cops went and shot off some tear gas and pepper balls. There was a white guy taken down, then a bunch of drunk kids bemoaning the abuse. Honestly these kids wouldn’t know reality if it hit them. Then you see some of the cops taking the time to talk to those who asked them questions about why they are doing what they are doing and what they are using.
This is hardly an over the top abuse of power. In fact, they did an awesome job keeping the injuries to a minimum and preventing a bigger disaster that would have happened if the riots spilled into Main St.
This has provided many teachable moments to our children as well. I was talking about my twitter exchange at dinner with the kids. My 10 year old son was confused. He couldn’t understand why blacks would be treated so differently than whites. In our household we don’t tolerate racism or bigotry against anyone who is different than we are. And at school he has friends of all colours and a few different countries. So we had an interesting conversation that has continued since with him trying to wrap his head around the fact we aren’t all treated the same. A lot of adults wonder the same thing.