Happy Halloween everybody!
Have your plans for tonite all ready? I will be hiding under my bed at my abode in Salem.
Whatever your plans, be careful not to take them too far. Law enforcement has a way of being overly-on-hand on nights like this. With good reason, actually.
After all, there was that “Great Pumkin Riot” not so long ago.
Oh. You did not hear about it?
It took place earlier this month in Keene, New Hampshire. When the dust settled, three people were said to be in custody.
The three gents were Forest M. Wilkinson, 18, of Spofford N.H., Michael Bulman, 19, of Scituate, Mass., and Tory Knaff, 18, of Groton, Conneticuit. According to reports, Wilkinson was released on $2,500 bail and faces a misdemeanor count of criminal mischief for allegedly tearing a street sign out of the ground. Bulman and Knaff were each charged with one felony count of reckless conduct for allegedly throwing a beers into a crowd. Both were released on $5,000 bail.
At last count, A fourth gentleman, Keene State fellow student to Bulman, James A. Schaefer III, 18 was also arrested by police in connection with the disturbances latlater
It was Keene’s 24th annual Pumkin Festival. According to reports, the festivities were brought to a close as tear gas and pepper spray filled the air and police dressed in riot gear dispersed the unruly crowd.
“State and local public safety officials are on the scene and have been working closely together to defuse the situation,” Governor Maggie Hassan said a statement. “We will continue to monitor the situation and provide any assistance necessary to Keene.”
Bonfires burned into the early hours of the next morning on city streets that were littered with broken beer and liquor bottles, video from CNN affiliate WMUR showed.
“I am saddened and disheartened at the events surrounding this year’s Keene Pumpkin Festival,” said Keene State College President Anne Huot. “Despite the concerted efforts of organizers, city officials, police, and Keene State College, there continued to be disruptive behavior at parties in multiple locations around the city, injuries, and property damage.”
Huot said Keene State students bore some of the responsibility for the unruly behavior, but also suggested that some outside the community had billed the event “as a destination for destructive and raucous behavior.”
Authorities weren’t able to provide exact figures, but CNN affiliates reported actual dozens of arrests and the Southwest New Hampshire Mutual Aid Dispatch Center reported multiple ambulances being sent to the scene.
“I got hit with a Jack Daniel’s bottle, like across the face,” Keene State student Roger Creekmore told WMUR.
18-year-old Steven French, who was visiting from Haverhill, Massachusetts, described the chaotic scene to the local paper, The Keene Sentinel, as “wicked…It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops,” he told the paper. “It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”
Part of the “wicked” “blast” included shouting expletives at police, starting fires in the road, pulling down a street sign and apparently trying to flip over a Subaru, the Sentinel said.
Just your typical good clean “rush”.
Because of arrests (140 last year, the Sentinel reported) and injuries at past festivals, the community has held forums in recent years — inviting police and emergency room doctors as well as residents — to explore ways to mitigate the violence, vandalism and littering that come with the celebration.
That would explain the officers in riot gear dispensing free tear gas and pepper spray to the crowd.
The pumpkin festival is a source of pride for the community of 23,000 people about 80 miles northwest of Boston. Last year, the event set a world record with 30,581 lit jack-o’-lanterns, according to the festival’s website.
“It’s ridiculous. It’s not Pumpkin Fest,” Jacob Gowans, another Keene State student, told WMUR. “We’re supposed to have a fun weekend. This is stupid.”
Yeah. It was supposed to be a really “wicked” “rush”.
Attorney Sam’s Take On unruly Events
It really does not matter where you go these days. Festivals can get out of hand just as individuals out celebrating Halloween can easily find themselves in trouble.
It does not take a rocket scientist to know that the alleged behaviors mentioned above can land you wearing unwanted jewlry on your wrists.
But it often does not take such extreme behavior to put you in that position either.
Here are a few quickie suggestions of how you might act should you prefer not to be in the papers tomorrow…
1. Don’t destroy public property. The fact that you are part of the public is not a defense.
2. Don’t destroy private property. The fact that you “know the dude” is not a defense.
3. If you are with a pal who decides that he would like to be a sudden guest of the Commonwealth. It is time to seek safer company.
5. If /when the police come to detain your pal, do not attack or yell at them. Do not tell them that they have no right to do so. You would be surprised at what rights they have.
6. If the police have decided to detain you, same advice. Go quietly. Be polite. And Other than “pedigree” information…shut up.