Uprooted stop sign from town center now at DPW building
The numbers really do tell the embarrassingly sad story of the Blarney Blowout 2014: 58 total arrests (55 APD, 3 UMPD) with another 24 summons issued for alcohol related incidents.
AFD transported between 18 and 20 overzealous Blarney participants to the Cooley Dickinson Hospital thus tying up a vital ambulance (one per person) for at least an hour per incident.
Four officers received minor injuries during the turbulence even though many of them were wearing riot gear.
But the real damage is just now picking up steam: National news (including Time Magazine) blaring headlines that reflect ever so poorly on our little college town and the "flagship of higher education" in the entire state of Massachusetts, where education was pretty much founded.
Did the police overreact? Hell no. Obviously they were outnumbered 100 to 1, so when those kind of lopsided odds start to turn bad -- throwing bottles and cans, setting off fireworks, uprooting stop sign's and gravestone's etc -- there's really no choice but to step in.
Chief Livingstone (white cap) on scene N. Pleasant/Fearing streets moments before use of OC pepper guns
I asked Chief Livingstone to respond to the concern APD "overreacted" with their use of OC pepper ball guns, and received this response:
"Like all our less than lethal force options, we have protocol and policy on how they are dispersed. Yesterday's events, after numerous dispersal order were given at a number of locations, justified their use. As you know I was on scene at Puffton, Townhouse and Fearing and North Pleasant Streets. Officers acted accordingly and per policy."
North Pleasant Street had to be shut down for 15-20 minutes
So where do we go from here?
Last year, prior to the Blarney Blowout riot of 2013 (where only 6 were arrested), Amherst Attorney Peter Vickery sent a letter to the Amherst Select Board reminding them as the town's liquor commissioners they could, as an public safety measure, shut down all alcohol sales within town borders on the day of the Blarney Blowout.
They ignored him.
It's time to take that sobering suggestion seriously. The Select Board should put the measure on their next meeting agenda, where they will no doubt be discussing the public safety disaster that unfolded in our little town yesterday.
Voting to suspend all alcohol sales in town for next year's Blarney Blowout at their next meeting, would be ironic justice ... since that meeting occurs on March 17 -- St. Patrick's Day.