‘At least the bullets were rubber this time.’

Garrison Ebie

I wanted a beer. It was about 2:30 p.m. on a Saturday. The sun was bright. The air was hot. For some odd reason, a beer would have really hit the spot. We walked up College Avenue, and I found a stack of plastic cups hidden behind a beer pong table. I took one and found myself walking to the keg next door. The tap was being operated by some guy in a customized College Fest T-shirt and backwards ball cap. He tirelessly continued to pump the tap while pouring warm, foamy beer into dozens of plastic cups, one at a time. Each was held by a thirsty individual who, like me, just wanted a free drink.

This is always an interesting sight. The image that sometimes comes to mind at a keg party is piglets trying to feed on their mother’s milk, all competing for that one last teat. Eventually, my cup was filled. I climbed to the top of a hill in someone’s front yard and watched a sea of drunken humanity stumble about. My beer was not good. After 15 minutes, I left.

So yeah, I guess you could say I was there.

By now, talking about this makes me feel like I’m just beating a dead horse with a broken whip. A point still needs to be made clear in this situation. Whose fault was all this? The blame is continually being shifted from one group to the next. Was it the cops’ or the students’ fault for acting inappropriately? Is it Lefton’s fault for not addressing the situation because it was after his bed time? Is it La-Z-Boy’s fault for making such flammable couches?

About 9 p.m. I was at work at a relatively well-known bar & grill on Depeyster Street, a few blocks from College Avenue, when the rumor mill blew in 100 sides of the story. I wasn’t able to see the madness up close, but judging by the plume of smoke rising into the air, I figured maybe there was some truth to all these exaggerated accounts.

But I wasn’t there in the end. I saw none of this. All I have to offer is a second-hand account based off what I heard in about 50-100 conversations throughout the night. I’ve only come to one conclusion: one gigantic case of fail on everyone’s part.

I can blame the students. They acted poorly when the cops showed up. They threw bottles and rocks, the cops threw gas and rubber bullets. This is human nature, not a surprise. When someone throws something at us, it’s our initial instinct to throw something back. Those of us who don’t care much for the law at least have to put up with its consequences and sometimes getting shot in the leg and gassed out of your house is one of them.

There were a few fires. First of all, fire is awesome. It’s bright and hot. It burns things, and best of all, it grows. The best part about a fire is seeing how big you can make it. However, throwing furniture onto a fire in the middle of the street is asking for trouble. This was not a very well thought out gathering. This was unorganized chaos, and while I see the point trying to be made (We’re having fun!), most people who pick up a newspaper and look at that picture will just think it was a bunch of drunken kids burning things.

I’ll blame the cops too. I don’t think anyone familiar with my column would be surprised that I don’t care much for the police in this town, and here is a perfect example why. They had all day to come through and manage the party but instead decided to not show up until after the sun went down.

They were not able to prevent three fires on a dead end stretch of road less than a quarter mile long. They were rude, trigger happy and overstepped the boundaries of their job by carelessly firing at crowds of people. The police irritated party-goers and escalated the situation with their presence. The only reason College Fest got labeled a riot was because of rubber bullets and tear gas, all provided courtesy of the KPD.

In short, a lack of common sense is to blame for everything. Nobody was right, and everyone was wrong. What could have ended up as a fine spring evening to grab a beer and linger around in the street without harassment turned into another reason why Kent State isn’t taken seriously.

Garrison Ebie is a senior electronic media production major and a columnist for the Daily Kent Stater. Contact him at [email protected].