The Song Remains The Blame

, Bob Parks, Leave a comment

Last Wednesday night, ours were one of the seventy percent-plus of Boston households tuned in on the Boston Red Sox’ humiliation of the hated New York Yankees in The Bronx. The unplanned post-game show has stirred an unfortunate, yet predictable debate.

Shortly after the Fox Sports telecast ended, we got the local shots of Fenway Park and a more telling helicopter view of Yawkey Way and Brookline Avenue that became a sea of inhumanity. My first impulse was that there were way too many people in the street to represent bar patrons. This was something else….

The helo-cam panned down to Kenmore Square where there was not an empty spot on the street to be seen. It appeared as if the campuses of Boston University and others nearby had emptied and the students collectively converged on the large intersection for a victory rally. It quickly turned ugly.

“Small fires burned, street signs were torn down and trash barrels were tossed about as police struggled to control the increasingly hostile crowd. Several cars became trapped by walls of people while drivers spun their tires and blared stereos – some with people riding on the roof. Several bottles were thrown, one of which reportedly struck a police officer, breaking his nose.”

– Tom Farmer and Dave Wedge, Boston Herald

There were shots of young people rocking and overturning cars, small fires were set amongst the crowd to “dance” through and around, trash cans were being thrown through plate glass windows and lighted signs were systematically destroyed. A young man had climbed onto the awning of a McDonald’s and proceeded to bash its sign to pieces. Kids were swinging in the trees in a monkey-like rapture, and later our view centered on young people climbing on the outside wall of the Green Monster.

Eventually, the Boston Police appeared to have seen enough. A reported couple hundred cops appropriately dressed in riot gear began to clear out the rowdies. One television reporter said tear gas was being shot into the throng in an effort to restore order.

Within a couple of hours, the police retook Kenmore Square. However, during the restoration of order, a life was lost and the blame game would soon begin.

“The death of a college student who was hit in the eye with a pepper spray-filled projectile has sparked anger and questions about whether police used too much force to break up revelers after the come-from-behind victory by the Red Sox.

“Police Commissioner Kathleen O’Toole said police are considering discontinuing the use of the weaponry that killed Victoria Snelgrove as officers tried to contain an estimated 80,000 fans who poured into the area Wednesday after Boston beat the Yankees in New York.

“O’Toole said the officers showed ‘great restraint’ but had to fire the projectiles after a few revelers set small fires and threw bottles at police and vandalized property, endangering others. Snelgrove, a 21-year-old Emerson College student, was hit in the eye and died hours later.”

– ABC News

Okay, here’s where some of you will call me insensitive. So be it.

First, the Boston Police wouldn’t have had to use “great restraint” if those students were capable of a peaceful celebration. Apparently they are not. Think about this: I’m sure Boston Police officers would have liked to be at home watching the game with friends and family instead of being out in the cold for hours preparing for thousands of juvenile punks that they knew would come out and go buck wild.

“I saw the horses surrounded. It was like a vacuum. They got sucked in. I saw guys holding small trees they had pulled out of the ground like warriors. They were holding steel sign posts they had bent over and broken. We had to fight to get control.”

– An unidentified Boston Police officer

My father always told me that “everything you do affects someone else.” With that, the actions of those young animals led to the death of Snelgrove, and an officer who came to do his or her duty that night to protect the property of private business owners, citizens, and the City of Boston, has now had a career permanently damaged. I’m sure that officer is in anguish, yet none of this would have happened if not for the irresponsible actions of college students and enabling college administrators.

Educational institutions restrict students to campus for a variety of reasons less noteworthy than the potential of committing serious felonies. Although some argue that college students are adults and responsible for their own actions, I contend their actions dictate they are still kids and are appropriately under the adult supervision of the college they attend.

After all, if a dorm burned down and a student died, I sincerely doubt the parents would say it was an accident and the student was responsible for his or her own self. The parents would most likely sue the school claiming that student was in the institution’s custody and was thereby responsible for that student’s safety.

“I want you all to meet my daughter Victoria. She was out of the way, but she still got shot. What happened to her should not happen to any American citizen going to any type of game, no matter what. She loved the Red Sox. She went in to celebrate with friends. Awful things happen to good people. My daughter was an exceptional person.”

– Richard Snelgrove

As pointless as the death of Snelgrove was, again I ask why was she there in the first place. Yes, she was of age, as she was to turn 22 this week. Conventional wisdom is that college students are over 18 and can make independent decisions. I disagree. And why if the victim is an attractive young female, is her death any more tragic than if it were a young male?

I watched two gussied-up young Emerson College students who claimed to be her friends, on Saturday’s ABC Good Morning America weekend edition, tell the world what a wonderful person she was and how (in their professional opinion) the police overreacted. Again, Victoria Snelgrove would be alive today if not for the need to be out hangin’ with the homeboys.

The day after the disturbance, the Boston Herald printed a front-page photo of Snelgrove’s bloody body on the street, which has drawn the ire of the community. The Herald published a quick and sincere apology.

“Yesterday, we ran two very graphic photos that angered and upset many in our community. Our aim was to illustrate this terrible tragedy as comprehensively as possible and to prevent a repetition by portraying the harsh reality of what can happen when a crowd acts irresponsibly. It was never our intent to disrespect Victoria Snelgrove or her family. In retrospect, the images of this unusually ugly incident were too graphic. I apologize to the Snelgroves and the community at large.”

– Boston Herald Editorial Director Ken Chandler

I partially agree with Mr. Chandler. The pictures may have been sensational, but they should have been taken as a warning. The headline should have read, “This can happen to you!” If you go to what will probably become a violent gathering, there is a real possibility you may not make it home alive. And young ladies, you’ve got to get over your “It’ll never happen to ME” syndrome.

The Herald was subsequently inundated with emails, disgusted with the publishing of the photos. Those readers missed the point entirely, and some that may be parents of students in the area still may not issue a stern directive to stay off the streets if the Red Sox win or lose the World Series.

If those young thugs were at home when the Red Sox won and asked their parents if they could go to Kenmore Square and join in the whoopla, I’d be willing to bet at least three out of four of parents would issue a resounding “hell no.” With that, I blame the colleges for not foreseeing the potential for anarchy when kids and beer collide.

If you can remember back as far as high school, due to maturity, there were things that seniors were allowed to do that freshmen weren’t. Just because one is in college doesn’t mean one is capable of displaying good judgment and rioting after a championship-sporting event is not a rarity on college campii.

The knee-jerk response is to blame the police, who, incidentally, are the only group thus far that has assumed any kind of responsibility stemming from the evening’s occurrences.

“While I firmly and emphatically accept responsibilities for any errors, I also condemn in the harshest words possible the actions of the punks Wednesday night who turned our city’s victory into an opportunity for violence and mindless destruction.”

– Boston Police Commissioner Kathleen M. O’Toole

It’s a shame that adults have to accept responsibility while punk kids decided to use the Red Sox victory as an excuse to have “fun.” Also telling is the multi-culturalism mindset fed to college students that drive them into a Third World-like frenzy resulting in the need to “take to the streets.”

There was no reason for anyone to be out on the street that night, especially with the knowledge of what could come based on past experience. Last February, a male student at Northeastern University was fatally run over by a car during an on and off campus “celebration” after the New England Patriots won the Super Bowl. Neighboring colleges always seem to have arrests because of criminal acts of “celebration.” This kind of activity is not isolated to Boston, as we’ve all seen footage of celebrations run amok in many cities.

If I saw one of my kids on television climbing the Green Monster (commonly known as “trespassing”) or committing an act of lawlessness, and I was paying upwards of $40,000 a year for their education, I would yank them out of school so fast, it wouldn’t be funny.

As cops cleared the crowd, one young man who had been standing near Snelgrove shouted at police, “Are you happy? Murderers!”

That “young man” doesn’t get it.

Until those kids “get it”, every sports championship victory will be tainted by the deadly, criminal actions of young punks and college mobs. And if you think what happened in Boston was bad, just wait for the possible on-and off- campus “activities” nationwide that will most probably happen when liberal-indoctrinated, inebriated students are let loose should George Bush win the presidential election….

Think about it.

Bob Parks is a former congressional candidate, ex-Navy, single dad, graphic designer, life-long New England Patriots fan, and member/writer for the National Advisory Council of Project 21.