So, I was just watching CBS national news and found out that there was a riot about an hour south of me, near Michigan State University on Saturday night / Sunday morning. Apparently, somewhere between 3,000 and 4,000 students gathered for the Cedar Fest party at Cedar Village, a student housing complex just northeast of the actual campus. Cedar Fest was a tradition that was stopped back in the 1980s because of the crowd problems that accompanied it.
And, it probably shouldn’t have been allowed to start back up. What started out as a peaceful night of drunken college stupor and fun (I’ll give credit to some – not everybody drank), turned into a dangerous situation by 10:45 P.M., when police put their helmets on in response to bottles being thrown at them.
Between 1:00 and 1:30 A.M., the police began to order the crowd to disburse. 80 officers from different jurisdictions, including 36 from East Lansing were on duty that night working the crowds.
“Flash-bang” munitions were originally used to attempt to disburse the remaining crowd (only half the crowd disbursed when told), and when that didn’t work, a total of 13 rounds of tear gas was fired.
When it was over, East Lansing fire officials had made 14 rescue runs, 52 people had been arrested, 48 had been given tickets, and nearly every police officer had reported being hit with a flying projectile. There were a few injuries reported, but mostly only cuts and bruises. Windows in 2 police cruisers had been smashed. 4 small fires had also been started.
During a press conference Sunday afternoon, East Lansing Police Chief Tom Wibert told reporters, “I don’t see how we could have dispersed the crowd without tear gas,” but officers showed “a lot of restraint. … I think that there were some [students] who were there because they wanted to be tear-gassed as a rite of passage, so to speak. After the initial munitions — the flash bangs and the smoke bombs — they were actually chanting for tear gas.”
MSU student Vanessa Schultz from Clinton Township (Macomb County) said that she could smell the tear gas through her apartment window. She told reporters, “I think everyone’s mentality was like, ‘We want to get tear-gassed. This is fun.’ During the day it was all relaxed and fun. It was kind of a shock when it turned weird. But we all kind of knew what was going to happen once it started.” Schultz did not participate in any of the event.
Of the 52 people arrested, 28 have been identified as MSU students. All of those arrested could (and should) face charges from disorderly conduct to inciting a riot. Police will continue to review video tapes in order to identify those involved and what roles they played. Meanwhile, students convicted of charges dealing with riotous behavior could face suspensions under state law.
Some (mostly students) have said that police should have handled the situation better and that they may have been responsible for starting the violence. Based on videos I’ve seen from students at the party/riot, I disagree. I think people got drunk and out of control, and they need to accept the consequences.
As of a recent internet poll (which is still on-going, so it could change) on the Central Michigan Life newspaper’s website, 58% place the blame of the riot on the students while 42% place it on the police. This kinda shocked me, since it seems pretty clear that the students were at fault.
Police had been monitering the situation since January, after rumors on the internet social networking website Facebook began, claiming that Cedar Fest would be restarted. The university and police urged students not to participate, and most of MSU’s 45,000 students listened.
Here are some videos I found on YouTube (warning: the following videos contain strong language and may not be suitable for children):
So there you have it – that’s what happens when college kids can’t behave. Seriously people – grow up and obey the law – I’m doing it, you can too!
Tags: Alcohol, Cedar Fest, Cedar Village, Central Michigan Life, Clinton Township, CM Life, College, crime, Criminal, criminals, Disorderly conduct, East Lansing, Fire Department, Inciting a Riot, Law, Laws, Macomb County, Michigan, Michigan State University, MSU, Partying, Police, Riot, School, Schools, Student, Students, Tear Gas, Tom Wilbert, Vanessa Schultz, violence