Wednesday, October 31, 2007

I Cry For You, First Amendment

Sorry about the recent drought, work has been piling up lately. Actually, I ought to be doing calculus or drilling new Japanese vocab right now, but I'm not. Hopefully my stress will drive me to do more crazy shit on weekends, and in turn have more to blog about.

The scene for the latest such scene was this: several college students, some Sox fans, others not, sitting in a dorm room watching the last inning or two of the World Series. It's Sunday night, but after a fairly sedate weekend they are itching for some fun. One of the students is from Paris where, apparently, they have violent riots fairly regularly. He's been showing me videos of these riots all night. I find the whole notion very exciting. As the game winds down and we realize how lame a celebration of a World Series title this will be, someone mentions the nearby University of Massachusetts.

If you're not familiar with the great state of MA, let me tell you that they take their Red Sox very, very seriously. I think it's the most intense American fanship there is. So when the Sox win the Series, things get pretty crazy here, especially at a place with 30,000 college aged kids. Riots were guaranteed and we were in.

As the last pitch was thrown and Fenway celebrated we downed many Bawls* and commenced much yelling. We ran through the dorm waking people up, heckling Yankees' fans, and generally carrying on in a noisy and bawlsed up fashion. At this point in the night, the buses were no longer running, so our little gaggle (six people, including a couple foreigners with no knowledge of baseball) hiked the mile or so to UMass. Along the way (which was longer than it should have been as we got a little lost) we cheered at every pedestrian and car we saw and savored the victory spirit of MA after a Red Sox victory.

Just when things began to look hopeless, we reached the fabled "South West" and came around a corner to see a horde of people (estimated to be around a thousand) cheering and jumping around. Basically it was the promised land.

We waded into the crowd, despite the warnings of our cautious Parisian guide. Just as we neared the center of the crowd, people started bolting. Forgetting how non-hardcore Americans are, I assumed there were tear gas grenades raining down and people being brought down by indiscriminately wielded night sticks. When I regained my senses and turned around for a glimpse I discovered it was actually just four police officers on horses. Disapointing, yes, but they were still in full riot gear and on horseback. Plus, a line of riot cops were walking behind them with body armor, night sticks, and guns. From this point forward I must have used the word "legit" about a thousand times. It was fitting though, given that this was a "legitimate" riot with real riot cops. They would even beat their clubs on their armor as they advanced on you. Talk about ridiculously awesome.

At this point it's probably clear that celebrating the Sox victory was not my primary goal there. It might have been dumb, it might have been irresponsible, but I went to battle with The Man. I think most people have a revolutionary spark in them that's dissatisfied with the government (or any government) and feels the need to fight the power every once in a while. And what side would I rather be with than Red Sox Nation? Not to mention I couldn't ask for a better "Man" to fight than an excessive show of police force?

It was really excessive. The UMass crowd ran off without any kind of fight, which was very disapointing. And the rally was pretty peaceful to begin with. There was really no call to chase us all off. Nor was there any reason to leave officers walking around once everyone had already dispersed threatening to arrest us for just walking around. Goddamned Po-Po been pushing me down...

I have to say that there were two highlights to the night. The first was when my Parisian friend grabbed me by the arm while covering his face and said "run! gas!". There's still contention as to what kind of gas it was (and if there was any, the cops said they didn't fire any munitions, which is a blatant lie), but it doesn't matter. I can still say we got tear gassed without it being an unreasonable exaggeration. In fact, forget this whole paragraph.

I got tear gassed. Fuck yeah.

The other (better) moment occurred as the crowd was being pushed back between some buildings. A line of cops would advance and everyone would fall back (no one had the balls to get closer than 20 yards). Once they'd advanced a little, they'd stop and just stand there being intimidating. Whenever this happened, one of us would start chanting "Let's go Red Sox!", and naturally the whole crowd would join in. Being the passionate fans we are, this amounted to quite a ruckus. Apparently the police thought it was to much of a ruckus, and they'd come after us again whenever we started. Here's how the paper described it (yeah, we made the paper).

"Many who resisted officers reciprocated each push from the police with "Go Red Sox" as if they were engaged in a battle between good and evil. The chant seemingly doubled as a rallying call. Each time the crowd was pushed backwards, students could be heard chanting profanity to officers. However, they were a minority."

The few, the proud...

*Bawls energy drinks contain a lot of caffeine. We use the term "bawlsed up" to describe being this highly caffeinated, and trust me, you get pretty crazy.


OldSchoolKlingon said...

I get what you're saying about the "revolutionary spark", but I'm not sure it's cool to take that out on police officers.

And maybe one bottle wasn't enough, but my serving of Bawls left me feeling completely unaffected, indeed, it seemed to lack the energy drink kick.

justifiably_vertical said...

It's not as if we were trying to hurt them, or were even capable of it given their armor and such. And if the government grunts want to encroach on my first amendment rights they better be ready for a fight.

OldSchoolKlingon said...

Haha touche.

The Juicy One said...

nice...just, nice...