Dozens of people were arrested and police used tear gas and pepper spray to disperse a rioting crowd after a riot broke out in the aftermath of the Keene Pumpkin Festival in Keene, New Hampshire. While the story was reported by national news outlets, the amount of violence and property damage that occurred Saturday afternoon and evening was not sensationalized anywhere near the same manner the Ferguson protests were. USA Today and CNN had rather vanilla headlines with the story. Meanwhile, Fox News buried the story on their main page and MSNBC didn’t even have the story featured on their front page.
Below are screengrabs of both websites at 1:30 PM ET:
At one point in the evening, over 4,000 people, mostly white male college students, were gathered in the community of 23,000. The students were causing chaos throughout the evening, as liquor bottles were thrown, stores were broken into and cars were tipped over. Bonfires were set throughout the town’s streets. Light posts and signs were torn out of the ground. Town residents reported that most in the crowd were loud, obnoxious and drunk. At least 20 people were taken to area hospitals for various injuries, mostly from thrown bottles. This is also not a new thing for Keene. Last year, 140 arrests were made at the pumpkin fest.
Eventually, after copious amounts of property damage had been done by the out-of-control students, riot police were called into the scene to disperse the crowd. People in the crowd apparently started throwing beer bottles at the police and shouted obscenities. Tear gas was shot into the crowd and pepper spray was used on individuals who allegedly confronted police in a physical manner. One 18-year-old student told the local paper Saturday night that it was a “blast to do things you aren’t supposed to be doing.” He also suggested that the students were revolting from the cops.
Much like with riots in the aftermath of sporting events, this is going to be seen as kids just blowing off steam, having a little too much fun and just taking things a bit too far. Now, compare this to the coverage that we’ve seen by the mainstream media in regards to protests in Ferguson. In the aftermath of Michael Brown’s death at the hands of Ferguson police officer Darren Wilson on August 9th, the St. Louis suburb has been the scene of numerous protests and demonstrations. Despite the protests having gone on for more than 70 days now, much of the focus by the media has been on the rare occurrences of property damage and looting. We’ve seen a number of headlines blowing these aspects of the protests well out of proportion and making them the focal point of the story.
The contradictory nature of coverage of this very large riot that caused tons of property damage compared to that of the Ferguson protests was not lost on activists, protesters and non-MSM reporters.
— Khaled Bey (@KhaledBeydoun) October 19, 2014
— Stop1033.org (@stop1033) October 19, 2014
— Bassem Masri (@bassem_masri) October 19, 2014
— Molly (@mollyrosestl) October 19, 2014
— Kim Moore (@SoulRevision) October 19, 2014
— Ben Norton (@BenjaminNorton) October 19, 2014
— bL0Ve (@2_Synnseer) October 19, 2014
And that is just a small sampling of what is out there on Twitter. Apparently, the feeling in the MSM is that a bunch of drunk frat boys tearing up a city is just ‘rowdy’ behavior and boys being boys. Meanwhile, when a smaller group of true activists and protesters take to the streets to let their voices be heard about injustice, intolerance and police brutality, then they are thugs and terrorists taking a town hostage. It seems that having no purpose and just causing destruction is nothing more than things getting a little out of hand. However, using targeted civil disobedience and fighting for a cause is dangerous behavior that needs to be stopped.
As was pointed out by many on Twitter, the amount of damage caused in a few hours by drunk students far outweighs what has occurred in Ferguson over two-plus months. However, the headlines wouldn’t tip you off to that. In the MSM’s mind, the entire town of Ferguson was destroyed and razed by thuggish animals. The reality of the situation is that protests have generally been peaceful while passionate, covering specific areas of the town and surrounding area and damage has been limited to a few isolated instances. Let’s face it. The racial disparity in the coverage is obvious and, quite frankly, sickening.
Image: Boston CBS
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).