But in Ferguson, Black people cannot even hold a peaceful protest over a murdered Black teenager. What's wrong with this picture?
There is something equally hilarious and horrifying about witnessing a roving pack of White college students become completely unhinged over pumpkins.
Seriously, with all of the police brutality, sexual assaults, political corruption and any number of truly devastating things to become enraged over in the United States of America, students at Keene State College in New Hampshire, lost their ever-lovin’ minds at the 24th annual Keene Pumpkin Festival. Or as I like to call it, the Iggy Azalea of riots.
“Why?” you may ask. Good question.
“People were just throwing everything they could find: rocks, skateboards, buckets, pumpkins,” said Keene State student Ellery Murray to the Boston Globe. “People just got too drunk.”
“It’s fuckin’ wicked,” said 18-year-old Steven French. “It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops. It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”
“It’s a ‘blast,’” young Stevie said.
And we’re not talking about the blasts that ripped through the bodies of 18-year-old Michael Brown or 22-year-old John Crawford or the countless other young Black people who were slain by police officers. What young Stevie is referring to is the blast one gets from being raised to believe that they are untouchable and not even law enforcement has any real authority over them.
Let’s just call it fighting the power—with pumpkins.
“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.”
That’s where President Huot is wrong. There is no mysterious group of drunk, irresponsible, entitled brats running around damaging property, hurling bottles at police officers and turning over cars. There are no Black “thugs” to blame. At the very least, some of these looters without a cause were students at Keene. There is no one or nowhere else to shift responsibility. Despite all of her “despites,” there was a failure to control a wild group of kids hyped up on raging privilege and pumpkin spiced lattes.
The hypocrisy in the media coverage between the Great Pumpkin Riot of 2014 and the revolution in Ferguson, Missouri, has been stunning. Even in the face of cars being flipped over, fires being started, and projectile fireworks, the Keene students and their guests have been referred to as “rowdy,” “unruly kids” who had too much to drink; whereas the young activists in Ferguson fighting for justice for Mike Brown have been primarily deemed as violent menaces intent on destroying their communities.
Of course in this country, New Hampshire pumpkins are something worth rioting over. A dead Black child shot down in a hail of bullets and left to bake on a sweltering street for four hours, on the other hand, should be met with a peaceful response.
Make note of that.
Not once in the weeks of Ferguson protests, even with outside agitators attempting to spark unrest, did the level of destruction reach what occurred at the Keene Pumpkin Festival this weekend. And to handle the situation, police officers came equipped with paint ball guns and tear gas—not one shot was fired.
Twitter responded to the glaring hypocrisy with scathing wit:
@chimatli 2h2 hours ago
It’s that rural music they listen to and its glorification of agricultural violence. #keenepumpkinfest
@NelStamp 5h5 hours ago
And the #keenepumpkinfest rioters threw glass bottles at police. Kid holds a sandwich cops think it’s a gun and kill him #VonderritMyers
@AngryBlackLady 15h15 hours ago
White ppl looting at Lacoste.
That’s the whole joke.
Just “white people looting at Lacoste.” #keenepumpkinfest
@word_34 Oct 18
We need to ban pumpkin flight so this doesn’t spread across other states #pumpkinfest #keenepumpkinfest
@callmetrademark Oct 18
#Whiteprivilege is shooting up a movie theatre or throwing beer cans at cops and living to talk about it #keenepumpkinfest
@local_maxima Oct 18
Christ we’ve had a half-white president for 6 years. Why are these people still doing this? #keenepumpkinfest
The sharp satire is brilliant because it speaks to Black pain and frustration, and our understanding that the massaging of the Pumpkin Fest Riot narratives to accommodate a White supremacist framework is reflective of the same tactics used to criminalize Black men and women across this country.
The revolutionaries in Ferguson are called “violent” because it serves a systemic racist agenda to project the same characteristics upon them that police and certain media outlets are attempting to project upon a dead child—criminal, dangerous, deserving of brutality and potentially a painful death.
It would be too easy to suggest that the students at Keene were attempting to Columbus the protests in Ferguson and make it trendy. Though it would not surprise me if they thought the guttural cries of “Fuck the Police” sounded like something cool they wanted to try without stopping for a second to realize that FTP was born of years of extrajudicial bloodshed in Black communities. But to make that comparison would be to ignore that this ignorant, base behavior is not the exception but seemingly the rule wherever large numbers of drunk, White revelers gather.
No matter how media tries to spin it, what transpired at Keene, just like Huntington Beach, was criminal. It did not get “out of hand.” These weren’t rambunctious and unruly toddlers testing the boundaries beyond their safety gates.
These were college-age young adults who purposely set out to flout the law—which is tailor-made for their continued and uncontested success—and bask in the glory of being young, free and White in a nation that consistently and unapologetically kisses their collective ass and says thank you for the privilege.
And in a nation where Black children are murdered over and over and over again for simply being perceived as threats, that is no laughing matter.
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