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Blarney Blowout highlights disproportionate brutality

Outside of Boston, in the small town of Amherst, Mass., rests the enormous complex of University of Massachusetts Amherst. Every year, the school unofficially kicks off the St. Patrick’s Day festivities with one massive collection of parties that has been dubbed the Blarney Blowout. The Blowout encourages excessive binge drinking, typically starting at 7 a.m. or even earlier, and persisting throughout the day as the crowds increase in volume. It was originally a marketing stunt by the local bars in an effort to increase revenue, since UMass Amherst has spring vacation over St. Patrick’s Day. In recent years, the Blowout has led to police intervention and a few minor incidents, a handful of arrests and some minor injuries as a result of drunken shenanigans, throwing snowballs and beer bottles. However, after this year’s Blarney Blowout, matters escalated quickly.

This year’s festivities led to the arrests of 76 students and the deployment of the SWAT team in order to curb the day drinking, rioting and resistance from the student body. Among these arrests, four officers were injured as tear gas and rubber bullets were utilized to disperse the crowds gathering. Now, UMass Amherst has been criticized with the label “ZooMass Slamherst.”

Despite students responding negatively to police, one student did have a great argument that, “Let’s not forget that a few bad cops hurt the reputation of all the cops.”
In the aftermath of the Blarney Blowout, the UMass community is divided. The administrative side, led by the University president, issued an official statement criticizing the event as shameful and one which leads to “devaluing the college degree that all of our students work so hard to achieve.” On the student body’s side, however, the class president released a very different statement, “…that the actions of the Amherst Police were inexcusable.” He goes on to explain “The answer is not Captain Christopher Pronovost striking an individual, spraying him with pepper spray, swearing at him and then attempting to drag him off the porch of a private residence.” With such a great divide, who is one to side with?

But this entire issue could have been avoided by not holding the event in the local area. How can you blame the kids for, well, being kids? Even if Blarney did not exist, I can guarantee that students would congregate somewhere else for the last hurrah before an anticipated break. Some students may have been behaving inappropriately; it is even more shameful that trained police forces had to resort to such brutal methods The actions of the Amherst Police sound a bit like the descriptions of the Ukranian or Venezuelan brutality, if you ask me. That sort of behavior is inexcusable, and must not be tolerated.

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Blarney Blowout highlights disproportionate brutality