Tuesday, March 11, 2014

Blarney Blowout Solution?


 One APD arrest of 55 during Blarney Blowout

Local attorney Peter Vickery has resubmitted his radical proposal to the Amherst Select Board to use their powers as liquor commissioners to shut off all liquor sales in Amherst next year on the day before and day of the Blarney Blowout.

Last year UMass was criticized for not sending out threatening emails to students and their parents about the consequences of turning Blarney Blowout into a day of debauchery.  So this year the emails went out, and the results were even worse.

Last October for the final Red Sox game in the World Series, UMass tried giving the kids something to do by setting up a giant play area with large screen TVs, food and (non alcohol) drinks in the Southwest gathering area. They ended up with a riot anyway, with UMPD arresting 15.

Maybe it's time for the Amherst Select Board to implement Mr. Vickery's suggestion.  At the very least, put it on their March 17 agenda to facilitate a badly needed public discussion.  

53 comments:

Anonymous said...

Whenever I have a party, I buy my beer in New Hampshire because they don't have the 5 cent deposits -- I'm sure that I could buy all the beer I wanted in Hadley, or Sunderland, or Greenfield, or Bernardston, or Brattleboro, or....

Yep, I somehow think that I could manage to find some beer if I wanted to...

And if I only wanted 1 or 2 beers but couldn't get any in Amherst and had to drive somewhere else, I might just as well fill the trunk as not, oughtn't I?

Anonymous said...

The phrase "learned helplessness" is appropriate here.

I'm not sure that our Select Board can unlearn helplessness fast enough.

By the way, does the Blowout preempt the Hoedown? Or do the Amherst police need to get their riot gear to the dry cleaners right quick?

Kurt Geryk said...

Thinking ahead to next year, and just as an experiment...

We should do something even MORE radical, like shower the offenders with extreme empathy...assign counselors and mentors to guide the children who demonstrated challenges in reveling in a manner that fits into the culture of our community...let them know they are not cut-off forever, and that we want them to grow and mature...think about them as OUR children, as "US" instead of "THEM"...introduce the knowledge that "WE" are the ones who have flooded their senses with signals and advertisements to DRINK, and WE are the ones who have introduced destabilizing elements into THEIR young environments...and yes, offer alternatives that WE can provide (Jim Brissette in the Gazette) with the resources and experience we have access to...let's NOT become a lynch mob seeking to excessively fine and expel and banish from society forever these kids who are acting out...let's assume they are "crying out" for help...

And just to see what happens, let's NOT brand individual members of our community as the responsible parties, let's NOT create scapegoats out of the UMass administrators, or local small business owners, or "other" parents, or the cops...

Let's assume we are ALL responsible for what happened.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

Is Liquors 44 the sponsor of this?

Anonymous said...

Hard to tell if this will work, or perhaps it will backfire. But the town has to do SOMETHING. I do feel bad for the bar and liquor store owners, as they will lose money. There just do not seem to be a lot of options at this point.

Anonymous said...

Question? Is there or could there be an ordinance forbidding gatherings over a certain number of people without a permit? That way, police could disperse and/or arrest people as they began to gather in large numbers, rather than after they had gathered. It would take away the question about whether the "mob" was dangerous, or not dangerous and whether the police were justified or not in employing measures to disperse them. If it's illegal to gather in large numbers without authorization to do so, then that pretty much sums it up.

Anonymous said...

Annon 7:45 what you don't understand is that the police cannot keep 10,000 people from getting together, that is the point here.

Anonymous said...

Here is an idea, how about the university allowing a controlled on campus event, how novel.

Anonymous said...

I know that I am racked with guilt about this.

And I wasn't even there. I was at home.

I didn't even drink that day.

But I just can't help feeling responsible for everything that happened.

How's that, Kurt?

Anonymous said...

I know, how about national prohibition on alchohol? If they were only led by Larry and his cronies it might have worked.
Get real morons. The harder you push, the harder these kids will push back.

Anonymous said...

Gee Kurt how high are you? Wow!

Adam Sweet said...

I teach an adult continuing ed class, several of my students are UMass employees. Someone made a point last night that sunk home with me: the students were drunk, there were a lot of them, but they were orderly and not causing trouble. The trouble began when the cops began to disperse the crowds. If the cops hadn't tried to do that, there would not have been any trouble.

Perhaps the solution is, as Kurt Geryk suggests, to contain such gatherings in a kinder more gentle way, perhaps on campus in the form of a live concert or a party. Let the kids drink if they want, but keep it in one area on campus.

Regardless, this is a topic for parents to discuss and to think about. As a parent of teenagers, I am dismayed at how few of my son's peers were taught about morality and civic behavior. Is civics still being taught in our schools?

Parents, I think if there is blame to go around, it should rest in part on our shoulders. It is our responsibility to make sure our children are devoted to positive civic responsibilities.

Anonymous said...

This solution is no solution at all. The Amherst bar and liquor store owners will be hurt...and the kids will either go to Hadley to get their beer or else stock up the weekend before.

Anonymous said...

Mr. Sweet, the trouble began well before the police started breaking up the crowds. There were plenty of calls from citizens regarding violent and destructive behavior, as well as what the police saw while they just observing them. Dont buy into that BS.

Larry Kelley said...

No question about it!

Anonymous said...

Adam: its hard for me to view obstructing traffic, harassing drivers, and throwing things (before the police arrived) as "but they were orderly and not causing trouble". She the letter from the unfortunate older woman describing her experience. There is NO doubt some of these kids are absolute JERKS, jerks without alcohol, worse jerks with it. Sorry boys (and girls) getting drunk doesn't make you more interesting or attractive, just the opposite. However, getting smashed might make someone normally less attractive and interesting now appear so (drunk glasses), no sure you'll see that as a good thing when you sober up.

Anonymous said...

"the students were drunk, there were a lot of them, but they were orderly and not causing trouble. The trouble began when the cops began to disperse the crowds. If the cops hadn't tried to do that, there would not have been any trouble."

I have an incredibly hard time believing these kids were being perfect little angels before the cops showed up. Their numbers and the associated noise is enough for the cops to order dispersal from neighbors making noise complaints etc. Other residents should not be forced to suffer in their own homes or abandon town for the weekend so thousands of drunks can act like assholes all day.

Also, this BS I'm hearing about the out of control behavior only happened because the cops came in riot gear is ridiculous. The way they are dressed does not force you to act like an idiot. If you would like to use that logic, then next time you see a little league team out for ice cream after their game you are obligated to start a baseball game with them right then and there. The uniforms are for baseball games therefore there must be a game. Riot gear is for riots therefore a riot has to start. The riot gear complaint is just another excuse for acting like an asshole and not wanting to own up to the consequences.


Larry Kelley said...

Absolutely. (I need to install a thumbs up button)

Anonymous said...

The students are not stupid, they'll just got to the store for booze the week before...

Anonymous said...

+1 for a thumbs up button.

How about the University sponsoring an event? Then all the unerage kids can't drink! Duh!!

How about setting dorms aside for of age kids and LET them posess booze in their dorms. Dry dorms push kids off campus to party... or is that the secret intent of the U? Make it the town's problem and then write scathing letters and bang their fist until it goes away. Truth is, since this went national, this makes the U attractive to young kids looking for a good time.

Peter Vickery said...

Some comments suggest that our police officers should stand back. If I understand that line of reasoning correctly, it goes like this: Large groups of intoxicated people should be free to intimidate and harass others and unlawfully obstruct the public way because if police officers tell them not to, the large group of intoxicated people will respond with violence. I disagree. Societies that surrender to threats of violence (even implicit ones) end up wishing they had not.

Anonymous said...

So… these partiers are 18+ year old ADULTS, and we should coddle and divert them so that they don't rampage through town? Kind of like you do with a baby… you know, stick a pacifier in their mouth to quiet them?

That is so backwards I want to vomit.

Next year, stage a large area, maybe the high school gym, to process and charge as many lawbreakers as the APD and State Police can throw flex cuffs on.

These are not children who need guidance. They are adults who are laughing at, and challenging authority WITH VIOLENCE, disrespecting the homeowners, and crapping on the town that has hosted them with open arms for over a century.

Adam Sweet, why would you assume that the trouble began because of the cops? Do you believe everything people tell you? For the record, there is plenty of evidence that the student violence started before the police arrived in various areas. But that aside, did they not have a responsibility to be present, and to be pro-active to protect the town? I mean, this has been getting worse each year, wouldn't it be negligent to not prepare for what you know is coming? How would it go over with you if your car was surrounded as that poor woman's was, or your loved ones were assaulted, and the APD was not on alert?

Somewhere along the line some folks got it into their head that the police should not use force to protect themselves and the town. Even dressing in protective gear and helmets is now too "scary" for people. I suppose they think that if they did not wear "riot gear", then the students wouldn't throw glass bottles at them because, you know, they are interested in a fair fight.

Every clip I have seen, including the one of the "innocent kid doing nothing and getting sprayed in the face" shows a perfectly legal and text book use of force.

I often wonder if people realize that refusing to obey a lawful order from a police officer, such as an order to disperse, is an arrest able offense, and if you choose to go that route, you can legally be sprayed, tazered, or struck with a baton. A police officer is allowed to use an amount of force necessary to affect an arrest, and believe it or not, as in the video of the kid refusing to disperse and then swinging at the officer as he approached, you can get punched right in the face. It's legal, it's common sense, it's self defense. Live with it. It happens every day in the real world, (which is located just outside of the Valley).

I am still holding out hope that Kurt Geryk's post was tongue in cheek.


"Those who cannot remember the past are condemned to repeat it" George Santayana.

"Amherst, 26 square miles surrounded by reality". Author unknown.


Richard Marsh

Peter Vickery said...

Please bear in mind that the goal of the 48-hour alcohol ban is not to solve every problem, but to help solve just one, namely the pre-St. Patrick's weekend tradition of mass rioting and attacking police officers. Breaking that tradition is now essential.

Yes, people will be able to buy alcohol in the days before the ban goes into effect. But in order to purchase enough to intoxicate several thousand people they would need deep pockets and a license. The problem in my cross-hairs is not excessive drinking by undergraduates (I myself engaged in that practice with gusto) or the ongoing problem of rowdiness, but the annual gathering of thousands of intoxicated people with the expectation of (and, for some, the intention to generate) violence. Nor am I suggesting that the ban, without more, can solve the problem. But based on the experience of other communities, I believe it is one essential component of the solution.

Kurt Geryk said...

anon 8:24:

You're a Cowardly Anon who's too afraid to sign your name to your comment toward me...how's that?

Are you a mouse or a man?

Kurt Geryk

Dr. Ed said...

...shower the offenders with extreme empathy...assign counselors and mentors to guide the children who demonstrated challenges in reveling in a manner that fits into the culture of our community...let them know they are not cut-off forever, and that we want them to grow and mature.

Kurt clearly is thinking about the Amherst Police Officers, who clearly need counseling if not incarceration.

I prefer the latter...

BTW -- about 40,000 potential jurors got a really bad opinion of the APD on Saturday -- I'd never vote to convict anyone on anything the APD brought to court.

Anonymous said...

I miss the days of political protests. Perhaps it's time to organize the Public Libations Liberation Front.

Dr. Ed (aka Cato) said...

Is there or could there be an ordinance forbidding gatherings over a certain number of people without a permit

That's what Dr. Martin Luther King Jr was arrested for -- and I doubt courts would look favorably on that in light of the historical record.

"Amherst, 26 square miles surrounded by reality". Author unknown.

No he isn't unknown. And I believe I used the 27.8 square mile figure.

And another I will take credit for:

"Amherst Delenda Est." Just like Carthage, although I propose economically and not chemically.

Anonymous said...

ED once again proving he is a fool. Damn you Larry, I'm not for censorship but ED is just "out there..in a really tubular way". Ruins your blog and the conversation- every time. At least he is reliable.

Kurt; you are an ignoramus too. Its your attitudes that has contributed to the pussification of america. Thanks for that (sarcasm font).

What are the cops to do? Calls (from citizens) about assaults, fights, property damage, streets closed, public intoxication and urination. Ignore them? It is their job, no, their duty to keep and restore public peace. Cops stumble into HUGE crowds of drunken revelers. They are vastly outnumbered. Group mentality sets in for the minority of drunken fools, but I remind you only takes a spark to ignite an explosion. They are just supposed to let em rage on?!?

They clear them out and they refuse to leave. If they left, they lived to party on. Refuse to move and suffer the consequences. Like the cops are going to rush in an give em cookies and hugs. Share a beer or two? Why not Kurt. Quite frankly, the cops could have used their batons (which can permanantly injure) vs pepper spray? Hurts like hell (1st hand knowl) but GOES AWAY and seldome has lingering effects.

Some of you are delusional. Far from a CAN.

Charles C. Lane

Walter Graff said...

What a complete waste his proposal is. This event isn't about bars. It's about UMASS and Amherst. Close the bars and the kids will still do what they do and that is spend the day drinking. Lock down the school that day and they will do it another day before vacation.

The more attention this thing gets the more is will become established. As of now this has become a UMASS right of passage. The police, the media, and all the hype make it the event to be part of for a generation that is independent and does not feel they fit in. Their 'us vs them' attitude is now reinforced. Now that is firmly established thanks to the national media, students are obliged to have it next year and years after.

His proposal is not radical, it's just plain ignorant. You are not fixing the problem just going after a symptom.

UMASS has already made a major mistake not acting swiftly. One week will have gone by and nothing is being done. Yes they are investigating but they should have acted within days to set an example. They have far more information to do something to a major portion of the students involved who broke school code. They will pay for their slowness and lack of swift response. It sets an example already. The students have won and the school has lost. It's clear they have little understanding of the current generation and the way they think.

Tom Simpson said...

To Kurt Geryk's comments at 1:49 AM-

Are you kidding? Why don't we just give them all trophies for making it to "the game" like it was still 1st grade soccer?





Anonymous said...

Charles and Tom, Kurts wife runs the Amherst schools. Need I say more?

Anonymous said...

I still think Kurt was joking.

Larry Kelley said...

I only wish.

The Juggernaut said...

Former UMass student here, now onto the graduate path.

I work full time, in a office that deals with national issues. People know about this riot, and while the UMass students are not entirely to blame, at least 75% of it does. It disgusts me to see "fellow students" undo the work that so many of us put into improving that institution.

Firstly, almost half of the students arrested were UMass students, so obviously many folks are coming out of town to use the parties to wreak havoc. However, the size of the party and the publicity around it is solely the fault of the students and bars. Since many of these police events took place off campus, the bars are not at fault as directly as the students. Students should realize large congregations are not needed, and only lead to trouble.

Secondly, the actions of the police do not invalidate the actions of the students. Students and police committed transgressions, and should be charged as such. Throwing bottles at police observing the groups is not magically okay because twenty minutes later the police catches you and pepper sprays you during detainment.

Lastly, the damage is already done. Physically the town streets are wrecked, and PR wise UMass's image is tarnished. However, this generation must grow up, and reversing the damage of spoiled kids from bad parenting is going to be hard. Most of the suggestions by both sides cannot address the issues raised this weekend in Amherst, because they do not focus on reversing this attitude of "I do as I please."

Anonymous said...

Soo, Kurt

Tell me when it is a good time to come over to your house and stand on the sidewalk to piss on your lawn all the while calling to your 16 year old daughter to come out and PLAY!

Anonymous said...

Juggernaut… You said; "Students and police committed transgressions, and should be charged as such."

What transgressions did the police commit? Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

We are a society of laws. When we break laws there are consequences. If this was the first time the police were assaulted with bottles and cans while trying to maintain law and order I might see the overreaction whining as having a minor point. But this violence has been going on for years. Let me dangle. Expel anyone you can. Spoiled spoiled spoiled. Someone please remind me of any group the USA has ever allowed to create drunk riots for fun?

Kids protesting the police response? Are you shitting me? But mommy said I could get wasted and piss on your lawn. Mommy will make the big policewoman doesn't hurt me anymore.

Increase the fines. Increase the jail time.

Anonymous said...

The person responding to anon 7:45's posting about ordinances regulating the size of an assembled body has missed the point. If we had a town ordinance regulating (through permit) the size of any gathering allowed within our town limits, police would be automatically justified in dispersing or disallowing such crowds to gather in the first place. People could be sent on their way--or arrested for not doing so--before the crowd got out of hand. Or... if they weren't able to prevent a large crowd from gathering in the first place, there would not be the questions being brought forth in this instance about the justification of police efforts to disperse the crowd. Since the crowd was not allowed, by law, it would be their duty to disperse it, not their judgement to do so. The information about the ordinance could be transmitted to students so that they would know ahead of time that they would be subject to arrest simply for being present at such a gathering, regardless of the nature of their behavior.

A quick google search proved that other towns are further along in this line of thinking than we are.

http://www.blmgrove.com/uploads/documents/Code%2031%20LARGE%20ASSEMBLIES.pdf

http://www.independence.govoffice.com/vertical/sites/%7BC7D7213B-EE9A-4B42-8A07-C723AF50920C%7D/uploads/Ordinance_No__2013-05_Large_Assembly_Permit.pdf


Anonymous said...

Liquors 44 in Hadley... on the Amherst Line... likes the idea of closing all Amherst Liquor stores for two-days!

Larry not even you can believe that will stop any of this? Tell every Amherst business that they can sell or sever alcohol for one of two days? Really? That's the solution? How is this fair to places like Rafters? Of the Hanger? Mission Cantina? Chaz Albert? Lumber Yard? ABC? Or the wine store in the carriage shops? Places that just open for casual customers who want to get a bite to eat and a drink? And how much chaos actually happened downtown Amherst? The police over-reacted Saturday in some cases and now they are in damage control.

Anonymous said...

Here is a simple solution for that day, copy what Boston does for big sporting events. No crowds of more than 10 people in one area or they all get arrested... bars can not have any lines outside under no circumstances. People either have to be inside or leave.

Anonymous said...


If they ban all alcohol sales for that day that would mean less police are needed right? So use that extra money they are not playing in OT and give it to each of the shop owners that will lose revenue because of the ban. And while you're at it why not suggest a tax credit for each business who has to stay closed that day? Or how about allowing alcohol sales on open on Memorial Day which is not allowed?

Anonymous said...

What transgressions did the police commit? Richard Marsh

There is video of two rather egregious ones floating around the internet (already) -- which Larry chooses not to post links to, which is his right, but that neither means that they aren't there nor that folks who need to see them haven't.

I wouldn't be at all surprised to see the FBI step in -- I haven't heard anything, but I wouldn't be surprised, one of those videos is that egregious and the other appears to be.

And think not only of the students who will be applying to ZooMass but the ones who WON'T BE. Good job APD -- I like what one donor said -- this was a party not a political revolution...

Larry Kelley said...

But hey, it did spawn a political protest march to decry "police brutality." You know, the march that attracted all of 100 fresh faced kids on the nicest day we've seen in 5 months.

And the kids who filmed the Nitwit getting sprayed in the face did not seem all that concerned.

Anonymous said...

And the kids who filmed the Nitwit getting sprayed in the face did not seem all that concerned

Nor did the ones who filmed the Rodney King incident, and you kinda might remember how that one came out???

Larry Kelley said...

Yeah but this bad boy is white. And he looked bigger than the cop.

Kurt Geryk said...

It's impossible to have an intelligent conversation on this blog. It almost always descends into name-calling, and people accusing others of saying things they never said, having points of view they don't hold and haven't expressed.

On my end, clearly I am unable to get my point across effectively on this forum, and I regret that. My point is that the things we are doing are clearly not working...what should we do next year?

Obviously the behavior of some attendees was reprehensible, and I have not questioned the actions of the police.

Kurt Geryk

Anonymous said...

More worries, more questions:

-Why is the UMASS President now trying to change the narrative by suggesting APD were at fault? Our officers are in serious danger during these outrageous events, putting their lives on the line. Please back off.

-UMASS wants to expand the undergraduate population, but I hear no declaration of intent to build more dormitories. Where will everyone live? Our neighborhoods are already overwhelmed with poorly behaved students. What is the criteria used to suggest one is mature enough to live off campus?

-Marching against APD police brutality? Give me a break and start to fight a 'real' cause. APD have some of the best officers I have ever met. They are polite, engaging, flexible.....what a joke. What about economic inequality? Let's take on a just cause.

Having said all the above, I do want to remind everyone that UMASS has many fine students who do excellent work in our community. Student teachers are one such example. Student-athletes who volunteer in our neighborhoods also deserve praise. Many thanks to these fine young individuals.

Anonymous said...

Only problem with the Rodney King video was it was only a very small slice of the event. It did not show a high speed chase thorough the residential streets at 80 mph.

It does not show officers finally stopping the vehicle and King's two passengers peacefully exiting the car for take down and arrest.

It did not show King defying officers and remaining in his car.

It did not show him then exiting the car only to act bizarrely, giggling, patting the ground, and waving to the police helicopter overhead, grabbing his buttocks which which officers took to mean King may have been reaching for a weapon.

It does not show the officers swarming King only to have King throw each officer from his person.

It did not show Rodney King viciously attacking police officers as they tried without success to subdue him and then after no other recourse striking him some 33 times in sensitive areas such as his joints to try to contain him all while he kept rising attempting to further attack the officers(as was seen in the video recorded).

It did not show two unsuccessful attempts to subdue King with a taser.

The famous video was started towards the end of the arrest and the media decided that only the last minute where cops are shown attempting to subdue a person with all force necessary after five officers could not subdue him.

Eventually eight officers swarmed him and were able to subdue him even after the baton strikes.

Were they correct? Your call, but a court found only a couple of the officers involved with the event to have used excessive force. As the federal judge stated in the end much of the incident was the fault of King who he said provoked the officers' initial actions. The judge stated that only the final six or so baton blows by one officer were unlawful. And that the first attempts to subdue him were within the law because the officers were attempting to subdue a suspect who was resisting efforts to take him into custody.

Of course the racial tensions being what they are towards police caused a riot slightly larger than the Blarney Blowout.

Anonymous said...

So, Kurt why don't you and your wife just move on along and do everyone a big favor!!!!

Anonymous said...

UMASS suffers from a lack of leadership. Always has. Subbaswamy needs to be a LOT more hands on with this problem. He should ride along with APD this spring and see first hand what his students are up to. Better yet, he should have been standing right there on N Pleasant Street with the chief of police, taking stock of this whole event. Then he could have personally told each of the arrested to pack your shit and go home. Hell, if I wrote a letter appealing for good behavior prior to this event, I'd want to see for myself if anybody was listening and assess the situation for myself.

Everyone knew that this event had the potential to be real ugly. As a proud alum and Amherst business owner, I called UMass Monday morning and expressed frustration. The woman I spoke with basically stated that there wasnt much that they could do. Again, this speaks to a lack of leadership.

I have had enough of this and I believe the governor should be out here working on a solution, because clearly his chancellor has no ideas!

The fine and committed people at APD and AFD deserve better than this and so does the community.

LACK OF LEADERSHIP AT UMASS. STUDENTS DONT RESPECT THE TOWN BECAUSE UMASS DOESNT EITHER!

Anonymous said...

Anon 7:37. I think I know which two videos you are referring to, and I addressed them in a nearer post. I am interested in your take on them. Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

Kurt, despite the adolescence of some of the responses here, I think what is being questioned is your deflecting blame from these adults who rampaged through Amherst breaking laws, and disturbing the peace, and placing the burden of ending these actions on those who have no responsibility to do so. Just my opinion as a long time contributor. Richard Marsh

Anonymous said...

I'm sure some will find fault with this… somehow, some way:


http://www.gazettenet.com/home/11109453-95/chief-scott-livingstone-explains-amherst-police-actions-during-blarney-blowout

Richard Marsh