by Taylor Nichols
Many of you may have heard about the so-called “riot” that happened on Saturday night, October 12th. After a block party was broken up near Western Washington University’s campus, hundreds of college –aged kids flooded the streets and gathered around Laurel Park.
The police came and in response, people threw beer bottles, cans, cinder blocks and other items at the authorities. At one point someone streaked, and people banged on the police cars and on a WTA bus driving down the street. One girl ran out of the crowd and attempted to “twerk,” and street signs were even torn down. Essentially it was a giant group of drunken young people acting outrageously because they were mad that the party they were at got shut down.
Police came in with riot gear and used tear gas and flashbang grenades, among other things, in an attempt to disperse the crowd. The riot made national news, and videos taken by people at the scene were broadcast on multiple news channels.
I generally don’t support using violence to get what you want. That being said, there have been examples in the past of riots that have at least been for legitimate reasons, like when Occupy L.A. was forcefully broken up, or the riots after the assassination of Martin Luther King Jr.
When people get together to break things and cause a scene for no reason, there’s something wrong. It’s disappointing that people my age and in my community put Bellingham on the map for this.
What’s even more disappointing is the fact that these people’s actions reveal a blatant disregard for the rest of the community. A WTA bus was damaged, street signs were still down as of Sunday, and people in the crowd as well as bystanders could and may have been seriously injured.
A few students came the next day to help clean up the mass of broken glass and debris left in the aftermath, which is a nice reminder that people do still care about their community and want to take care of it.
Another negative affect of this is that it distracts from more pressing news. There’s still a war in Syria, we are in the midst of a government shutdown, and the Puget Sound area may be on the brink of a large grocery store employee strike. While these should be the media’s focus, the headlines read things like “Riot in Bellingham after police try to disperse party.”
This embarrassment is a prime example of young people letting off steam and being wrongly aggressive against a common “antagonist” — police. “F*** the police” is something I have heard from a large number of people who have no experience or solid reason to back up their statement. While there are many examples of officers wrongly exerting their power over people and doing horrible things just because they can, there are countless more of officers doing their job the way it should be done and keeping communities safe.
However, I think we can be reminded of a few things from the incident, namely the importance of thinking before you act and the responsibility we all have to take care of each other and our community. Don’t throw beer bottles at a city bus, because it’s rude and destructive. Don’t” twerk” in front of a cop car, because you look like an idiot. Breaking things, yelling, and ripping out stop signs doesn’t make you look any better. It makes you look like an immature, drunk college kid who has nothing better to do or care about than rioting for no reason and trashing a park because everyone else is. You are an adult, and everything you do represents and reflects your community. Act like it. There is a time and place to live a little, but you should be more discreet about it. Don’t act irresponsibly in a way that affects your whole city.