Riot

So there was a riot at UMASS? Really? I would never…But I’ve heard it’s such a peaceful place! People never do crazy things there!

Sunday night was fun, well, minus the fact that the Pats choked for the SECOND time in a row. Yay New England sports.

So what do the Pat’s loss and the death of Osama Bin Laden have in common? You guessed it, a riot! In South West! With cops and horses and everything!

So after Brady’s attempt to be Superbowl 46 hero, all hell broke loose at UMASS. 1500 drunk Pat’s and Giants fans scurried out of their dorms in South West to do what we do best here at UMASS: Make asses of themselves.

Apparently a riot seemed like a pretty solid way to go about this. I can’t say I disagree.

Being on the Collegian photo staff, and knowingly being one of the only people sober that night, I took the plunge and told the editors I would go. Honestly, it was totally worth it.

My roommate and I ran from Worcester dining hall where we were watching the game right after the failed touchdown attempt. (Well, after I wiped the tears off Ryan’s face and gave him a “life is still worth living” pep talk.) Now when I say we ran, I’m not saying we walked fast. We ran. It sucked. Have you ever run across campus in Converse? Then you know. My legs still hurt.

We arrived to a wall of drunks screaming inaudible obscenities at the police, as is the norm for such events. The wailing of the UMASS “Don’t Do Stupid Shit” warning system was just a slight buzz over the roaring drunk mass ahead of us. Students had congregated in the center of South West, screaming and chanting such creative and enchanting lines as “Fuck-the-Gi-Ants” and “Lets-Go-Pa-triots.” I think they honestly thought it would make some kind of difference. Really, riot chanting brings out the intellectual side of society.

I was amazed at how many Giants-clad fans there were walking about in the open. With all the pissed off, drunk Patriots fans roaming around, I figured a kid wearing a Giant’s jersey had the same life expectancy as a pudding cup in a fat camp. From what I saw, they were pretty much left alone, minus some taunts and jeering. However, I was only there for 40 minutes or so. Or maybe they just didn’t like pudding.

Then the flash bangs went off.  As expect when a grenade goes off, people kind of freaked out, and Ryan and I were met with a terrified, screaming drunk wall of UMASS students running at us in a limb-flailing manner.

So what did we do?

We fucking hid. In a corner. Curled up in the fetal position. And kind of prayed for our lives. Ryan later told me he saw Jesus (That’s a total lie).

After the first stampede, I decided it was time to do the right thing, so I looked at Ryan, mumbled something pointless but probably seemed like a cool catch phrase at the time, and ran to the front of the mob with my camera in hand abandoning my dear friend. The prices of journalism. I never saw Ryan again (Another total lie. He’s actually sitting next to me right now). I had to push through a lot of drunks, and avoid a lot of fights, but I finally got up front, and the photo opportunities were worth it.

Police in full riot gear, armed with paintball guns and disgustingly large horses were doing their best to drive angry students out of the square. As I mentioned previously, they had already employed flash bang grenades, and were also now using smoke grenades as well. Some kids convinced themselves this was tear gas. I lol’d.

By the time I got to the front, the police were getting ready for their stand. They lined up their row of horses and mediocre paintball players, looking like a line of badly dressed storm troopers at a Star Wars convention. I kid, but it was undeniably scary. It was also very reminiscent of Star Wars.

I would like to take this moment to make you all appreciate one small fact. Horses poop. A lot. Especially when they’re scared. What scares a horse? Noise. What does an angry drunk mob make? Noise. Needless to say, it was a shitty situation. (ba-dump!)

Although the police were doing their best to keep people safe by forcing them out of South West, I’m very surprised no one (that I know of or saw) was injured in the stampedes that ensued after their charges. Seriously, I was worried I was going to get trampled. People lose all sense of control when a storm tropper on a horse aims a paintball gun at them.

At one point, I went up to an officer to take a picture of him in his riot gear alongside a woman being arrested. He started screaming about if I took pictures I could be arrested, as well as a large amount of obscenities I won’t include (very professional mind you). So I did as any good photographer would do. I smiled at him and took his portrait. He got mad. I dodged paintballs for the next 30 feet of escape.

The rest of the riot was pretty uneventful. Cops with paintball guns screaming “MOVE!” over and over again. Big horses being just, incredibly large, in the center of South West. Oh, and some kid rode his skateboard right up to a few cops and did a kick flip or something. Kid’s got balls. Or no brains. Or both.

Sometimes I wish I lived in South West so I could comfortably view all of these events through the microwave oven sized window of of a tiny, 23rd story cubicle of a room. Or better yet, for something interesting to happen in O-Hill. Nothing interesting ever happens in O-Hill. Maybe that’s why I chose to live there.

In the end, 14 people were arrested, 13 of which were students. This leads me to ask the question, “Why?” If you’re not a student, then why the hell are you even at something like this? My best guess: sad alumni who just wish to relive their old UMASS glory days made up of beer, football and good old fashioned riots. Or maybe it was Luke Skywalker, bravely finding his way to UMASS to protect us from the Sith’s storm troopers. Or maybe he was just a drunk Pat’s fan.

-J

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