I suppose I can’t deny that students gathered on University Boulevard after the loss on Saturday. Why did I go to the street? To find friends, hug strangers and offer condolences for the end of an outstanding season. Why did I stay on the street? Because I was greeted by policemen standing outside in riot gear.
We fully intended to leave the vicinity and continue our evenings elsewhere. But first, let us take a selfie. In our age of social media, providing such a spectacle (batons, face shields, gas masks, etc.) was unwise. How can we leave the scene without a picture? An Instagram? A Snapchat? We can’t, and we didn’t.
Minds started brewing about endless caption and hashtag possibilities while University Boulevard turned into a photo shoot. Hundreds of us grappling for the shot, delighted in the anticipation of likes! The mass of policemen stepped into line behind the motorcycles, standing shoulder to shoulder. It seemed the police were so intent on preventing a riot that they would not leave until they provoked one. The stage was set, and we awaited the drunken students who would selflessly sacrifice themselves for the camera. Red rover, red rover, send someone … anyone … right over … our phones are losing battery.
Once students walked toward center stage, the situation quickly escalated. Capturing the scene around me, I could not capture the burning sensation I felt in my throat as a cloud of pepper spray enveloped me. A student running past me shouted, “Cover your face with your shirt! It’s more important than your Snapchat!” You sir, are quite correct. Despite my humiliation at this interaction, it illustrates my point. Had the police not presented a 50-man wall in riot gear (Instagram gold), I believe Saturday night would have welcomed a boring end.
— Emily Burton, 2014
From “Police conduct questioned after Saturday night’s clash” (by Ethan McSweeney, April 1)
“The Tucson Police Department took the actions necessary to ensure public order, safeguard property and protect people,” White said.
From the perspective of this 65-year-old, the TPD made a decision to come looking for confrontation and they got it, if not caused it. Has anyone ever heard of subtle police presence? Undercover? Walking in twos through the crowd? My reaction when I first saw the picture of the police line on Saturday night’s breaking news was that it was going to be a story about the Ukraine.
I hope the students don’t let up on the police or forget about this matter. You have many long-time residents on your side. Shoving that young lady over the bench was nothing less than an assault. The police officer should be prosecuted for it. It will be interesting to see what kind of a lame excuse they come up with for that one.
UNLAWFUL ASSEMBLY, crim. law. A disturbance of the public peace by three or more persons who meet together with an intent mutually to assist each other in the execution of some unlawful enterprise of a private nature, with force and violence; if they move forward towards its execution, it is then a rout (q.v.) and if they actually execute their design, it amounts to a riot.
INTENT TO ASSIST … Sure … That is a helluva way to utilize this unlawful act of police violence.
Sure was a lot of criminal action. Too bad it was by the police who, if anything, incited violence and the RIOT.