The Electric Commentary

Monday, October 31, 2005

Halloween in Madison

Several years ago a few bad people caused a riot in Madison on Halloween. The year after that, some bad people caused some minor property damage in Madison on Halloween. Since then, Madison's finest have been the exclusive cause of rioting in Madison on Halloween. While I wasn't there yesterday, by all accounts the behavior of the students was within acceptable limits. Yes there were 400 arrests, but most of those were of the "carrying a glass container" variety, and not indicative of rowdiness:

‚"The overwhelming majority of the infractions committed by revelers were open intoxicants and underage drinking,‚" he said. “Trailing far behind were disorderly conduct, violation of the glass ban and public urination ‚— there were a few resisting an officer, battery and drug arrests as well."

How do I know that the cops overstepped their bounds this year (if any of you were there last night and disagree, feel free to chime in, by the way)? Simple.

Pepper spray is appropriate if there is destruction, fighting, etc. No one claims that any of this occurred. Instead, the cause of the pepper spray seems to have been 2:00:

Ald. Mike Verveer, District 4, who was at the police command post during the disturbance, said the command for officers to put on their riot gear came at 1:52 am post daylight savings time and the command to unleash the spray came at 2:08 am.

Well now. 2:00! That is a good reason to severely injure a bunch of students. And in a classic Madison move, the Mayor is threatening to close down State Street next Halloween:

"We have to ask ourselves as a community if it's worth spending more than a quarter of a million dollars in public money to support an event that is built around the overconsumption of alcohol," an angry Cieslewicz said Sunday afternoon, adding he'd like to see the city shut down State Street next year under essentially martial law. "It's the world's largest collection of obnoxious drunks. I see no value in it."

First of all, hearing any Madison politician concerned over a waste of public money is hilarious. Secondly, the mayor seems concerned primarily with the safety of police officers. If that is the case, might I suggest that he not send quite so many, or send them to areas where there are fights and destruction of property. The point of having police officers is not to keep the police officers safe. It is to keep everyone else safe. Cops deal with murderers and thieves all day, and simply patroling a party should be a nice break from their day.

I would advise him not to have them arbitrarily fling tear gas into a large crowd.

So the local government causes most of the problems at Halloween, and, as a solution, they want to cancel the event. I think it's funny that they think this possible. To do so, they would have to shut down State St. all weekend. I don't think that people are going to put up with that. Halloween is not some government sanctioned party. It's spontaneous.

That's why it is fun.

Update: If you got here via MadisonUnderground, welcome, and make sure to read my brother's post as well, as he was actually there, and has had the pleasure of being teargassed in the past.


  • Sounds like the City of Atlanta during the "Freaknik" days. The crowds were orderly and pretty well-behaved but they were gigantic. Instead of figuring out how to manage them and using them to create a plan for managing crowds in the city, they totally cock-blocked the whole event.

    Epilogue? Atlanta has been embarrassed by pretty much every big event

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 10:06 AM  

  • Ooops. Atlanta has been embarrased by pretty much every big event that has followed and brought tons of people / cars to the city. Read: '96 Olympics, 2 Superbowls, and the 03 NBA All-Star Game.

    By Anonymous Rashid Muhammad, at 11:38 AM  

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