But, of course, the good citizens of this New Hampshire town, who minded their own business and stayed snug in their homes last night, do not know what was done in their name. Even the members of the Town Council who did not venture out into the chilly night when it was certain that the Boston Red Sox would win the world series of baseball, would not know after reading their self-centered Town Administrator's mealy-mouthed missive, that a phallanx of police, outfitted with pepper balls and shields, in addition to their usual lethal arms, marched to attack the celebratory students who had presumed to take back the streets.
Dear Members of the Council,I suppose one could blame it on the Old West mentality, this application of the herding instinct to any crowd of people as if they were cattle. The deployment of batons and tasers is also consistent. But, the shields behind which the cops hide tell us that they're really a bunch of wimps. So does the growing practice of targeting enthusiastic university students, whose innocent revelry prevents them from anticipating they are about to be attacked. Cowardly humans rely on the element of surprise to insure they won't get hurt.
All is quiet once again on Main Street and I am leaving the police department to head home. No one was injured to our knowledge and our officers did a terrific job managing a large crowd that became very hard to move. We went light on staffing this evening as a cost savings measure in that although we had all hands on deck (as did UNH police) with limited State Police support, we had planned to have around 70 more personnel tomorrow evening for Halloween if the series had gone to Game 7. We could have used some of that additional staffing this evening. I take full responsibility as I encouraged the department to not be over zealous with a ramp up this evening believing the students would behave better than they in fact did. Most of the students were not intending to be problematic, but with such a large crowd and with some instigators within that crowd (who brought with them at least one case of beer bottles to throw at police), fireworks, drinking, etc things quickly escalate. Police showed real restraint and I was pleased with our department's professional and practiced efforts. On a side note, thank you to Jim and Jay for bringing sandwiches and snacks for the staff tonight. Officers really appreciated the gesture. Also, thank you to Julian for coming downtown and observing with me tonight. Please have a good night.
"No one was injured to our knowledge." (What we don't know can't hurt us). Which is exactly why this shameful incident needs to be bruited about. Somebody needs to point out that police are not cowboys, hired to manage or move herds of cattle, but public servants charged with respecting individual and civil rigts -- one of which happens to be the ability to perambulate at will. Absent a reasonable suspicion that a crime has been committed, stopping an orderly crowd is no more Constitutional than stopping an individual, . ("Proactive policing" is simply not acceptable).
"Most of the students were not intending to be problematic..." Indeed, that's exactly why young people are increasingly targeted by police. It's always the innocents' lack of resistance, which prompts the predator's assault. (Little Red Riding Hood) The students were caught unaware and that's exactly why authority needs to step up and call a halt. God forbid what forces would have been called out if "a cost savings measure" had not been an issue! God help us if all that stands between the citizens and a full-scale police assault is a shortage of dollars! Next thing you know they'll be calling in tanks from Concord and Keene.
"officers did a terrific job" A telling phrase, since the police were obviously intent on terrorizing the celebratory crowd and forcing them back into their cages (dorms). That two members of the Council (Jim and Jay) fed the beast tells us that some authorities do more than stand silent to demonstrate compliance with the culture of obedience. Which is why the Town Administrator's effort to co-opt the one Council member who showed up to observe the actual instigators (the police) and for whose welfare any number of students expressed concern, should not stand as the last word, even though it is a good example of how spin works.
Perhaps it is unfair to assert that the citizens of Durham should feel shame. How are they to know that their agents of government routinely misrepresent what they are up to; that lip-service to cost savings is all that stands between them and "professional and practiced" aggression? Will they read about it in the press?