Why?

As the Boston Red Sox clinched the American League pennant there was much cause to celebrate around campus and downtown on Wednesday night.

A large number of students gathered outside on the Redstone Campus immediately following the victory. The celebration took an unexpected turn after 2:00 a.m. on Redstone Campus when a few students became destructive. By 2:45 there were over 1,000 students. Within a half hour 18 light poles were damaged, 12 windows were broken and a UVM service vehicle was flipped on its side. The totaled damage exceeds $40,000.

The UVM Police had to request backup from 8 outside police forces including Burlington, South Burlington, Winooski, Colchester, Richmond, Williston, Essex and Vermont State Police. In an attempt to control the students Police fired “paintball-like” pepper-fluid balls at students. This “non-lethal” form of crowd control resulted in the death of a 21-year-old Emerson College student, Victoria Snelgrove, in Boston on the same night.

In a mass email to UVM students, faculty and staff President Dan Fogel said of the means, “It is considered a safe and non-lethal tool that police agencies deploy in order to prevent the type of personal injury and extensive property damage than can result from riots growing out of control.” This, tragically, proved to be false in Boston.

Most UVM students, even those present on Redstone at the time of the destruction disagreed with the action of a few. The majority of students who were gathered outside did not participate in the mayhem. Junior Shelby Forsthuber who was outside at the time commented, “There were around 1000 people gathered outside who were not destroying anything at all. There were only around 60 active in the destruction.”

Forthuber went on to say, “Everyone getting together was sweet, the chanting was sweet, but tearing down the lampposts and flipping the van was too extreme.”

The destruction started with a few students burning New York Yankees hats on the green, but before long a large bond fire starting from the small. From the beginning there was a UVM Police presence on Redstone, but the number of the students proved to be too much. The police watched from the outskirts of the crowd, and did not interfere until the van was flipped onto its side.

After the fires were lit there a few students climbed up the lampposts with students shaking the bottom snapping the poles in half. The broken poles were used to break others, as mention earlier a total of 12 lampposts were broken. While all of this went on the police did not interfere to put an end to the destruction.

The peak of the destruction was when a group of 10-12 students flipped over a UVM service vehicle. The Vermont Cynic was able to track down one of the students involved in flipping the van. When asked why he did what he did, he responded, “I was pumped that the Red Sox won and I was wasted.” The consensus was the students who were the most destructive were also the most intoxicated.

When the police forces present finally tried to put an end to the riot, they did so wearing full riot gear, with German Shepards at their sides, using tear gas, mace, and the as mention not-so-non-lethal pepper-filled balls. Student described the police’s front on the crowd as not discriminating in whom they shot at; many students who were simply casually observing were fired at. The police were not organized in their offense, with many small groups of police officers, firing at random within the crowd.

Many students who were gathered on Redstone that night were not residents of Redstone Campus, as news of the gathering spread, student from other areas of campus and off-campus alike came to Redstone to witness the spectacle.

For many students this was a true display of the power of numbers, disappointment resonated around campus that the largest gathering of UVM students in recent memory accomplished absolutely nothing and was for nothing.

Some have said that the action on Wednesday night was a release of sorts, a boiling over of student sentiment about the ever-increasing police presence in the dorms. Even if this was the case, the way in which students displayed their dissatisfaction has inevitably increased the presence they dislike so much.

Capt. Lianne Tuomey of the University of Vermont Police Department said of the incident, “Those people who crossed over the line shouldn’t be in the community if that’s how they want to behave. The University Community is looking at ways to examine this, how we can have celebrations in a non-destructive manner.”