Let’s not repeat mistakes

DKS Editors

Just as we thought campus had settled down after this past weekend’s College Fest riots, a disheartening alert came across the newsroom scanner late Monday night: reports of a “small chair fire” on East College Avenue.

Turns out, it was true. A leather chair blazed in flames in the middle of East College Avenue not far from where the first one began Saturday night. Fortunately, the fire department arrived soon and quickly extinguished the flames without any unwanted fanfare – no shouting students, no pepper balls, no sailing beer bottles. Just a lone chair on fire in the street.

Ask the Kent City Police and ask the students what led to the fires and riots last weekend and you’ll get two very different answers. The police contend they were forced to use extreme crowd-control measures because of the partygoers’ aggression toward them. The students say the conflict began after police were unnecessarily aggressive with a young female.

We question both sides, but in the end, we’ll probably never know who exactly “started it.” All we know is that no one did exactly what they should have during the entire course of the riot, and we also know that this should never happen again. But both sides need to come to this conclusion and neither side needs to hold onto a grudge from last week.

Students deserve to continue having a (legal) good time without too much of a hassle just as police should have respect from students. And just as students should feel comfortable calling police if there’s a problem without fear of over aggression, the police should be able to feel proud they serve a city with many bright, young people co-existing with long-time residents.

When conflicts such as Saturday’s occur, they don’t further any particular agenda. All this riot did was make the campus, the city and everyone involved look bad. The comments on stories and letters to the editor prove this – respect is beginning to dwindle for Kent.

It’s hard enough for students and residents to live in a place that is only remembered for events that happened nearly 40 years ago. We’d like people to say “Oh, you go to Kent State? I’ve heard what a great school that is and what a great college town atmosphere exists!” instead of “Oh…isn’t that where four kids died in the 1970s?” We don’t need to be defined by an event that we weren’t involved in – and we’d definitely rather not have to hear about all the misguided parallels between the College Avenue riots and May 4.

So from here on out, when we’re having fun or – for the police department – when we’re reminding others of the law, let’s not forget the reputation at stake. Everyone deserves to be proud of his or her school and his or her city, and right now that’s certainly not the case. But it’s never too late to fix that.

Be careful this weekend. It’s not worth the national attention to burn another couch or shoot another pepper ball.

The above editorial is the consensus opinion of the Daily Kent Stater editorial board.