This weekend, the annual Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire turned sinister, weird, and disturbing as “hordes of college-aged people overwhelmed the area,” as the Keene Sentinel put it, destroying property, heaving bottles of alcohol, and apparently being very rude to police. The police responded in kind, breaking out the riot gear and letting loose with tear gas, pepper spray, and rubber crowd-dispersal bullets. Many were injured, heading to the hospital with injuries caused by thrown objects, most notably beer bottles.
Was there a reason for the riot? Was this perhaps a protest? Not according to any of those on the scene; the damage and destruction has been chalked up to drunk college kids with no particular agenda. The damage was severe, as you can see from many, many videos posted on YouTube and other social media channels; cars flipped, street signs torn down, bottles thrown at police, and even dumber and more pointless gestures like taking selfies in front of police barricades or chanting “U-S-A.” A visiting 18-year-old contributed what might become the defining quote of the riot: “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.” Cool.
The predominant attitude toward the riot has been amusement, which is easy to understand; the story is littered with images of big-city riots transported to bucolic small-town New England. (For example: the rioters tried to flip a Subaru. Of course it was a Subaru.) But, as Vice notes, it’s also much too lenient to write off the riot as inconsequential just because it’s so ridiculous; the rioters are more, not less, reprehensible because they lack even a modicum of reason for their actions. Pretty gross stuff.
(via CNN, image via Flickr user William Warby)