Smashing Pumpkins: Miles from Ferguson (MO) in a Thug-less Land Far, Far Away Drunken White Revelers Whoop It Up While Trashing a College Town in New Hampshire

By Elaine Magliaro

I’ve traveled to Keene, New Hampshire, on many occasions. I used to go there every October to attend the wonderful Keene State College Children’s Literature Festival. I even served on the festival’s advisory board from 2006-2008. Keene is a lovely, quiet, idyllic New England college town. I always enjoyed spending time there during foliage season.

I was saddened and shocked to hear about the recent riot in Keene during its famous Pumpkin Festival. From the multiple reports that I’ve read about what happened last weekend, crowds of drunken—and predominately white—college kids went wild. Inebriated partiers smashed windows, slashed tires, tore down street signs, and overturned cars and Dumpsters. They also threw bottles, beer cans, skateboards, buckets, and pumpkins. At least thirty people sustained injuries—including lacerations and broken bones—and had to be transported to a nearby hospital. Injuries were incurred during fistfights, jumps from rooftops—and from other blunt traumas.

Riots, fires, violence continue in Keene streets Saturday night


Melanie Plenda (The Daily Beast) noted that one “police report indicated that residents of a student housing unit in a neighborhood near Keene State College attacked firefighters called to the building.” The unruly crowd was also reported to have lobbed bottles at EMT’s as they were attempting to treat injured people.

Plenda reported that Dana Colson, who manages three of the properties adjacent to the field where much of the trouble started, said the partiers “were out of hand.” He added, “They just went nuts.”

Melanie Plenda:

Ali Taylor, who owns the Alpha Dogs restaurant on Winchester Street, where some of the riots broke out, said that early Saturday afternoon, she started noticing huge crowds of college-age kids running from one side of the street—a heavily trafficked artery leading to Main Street—to the other, “almost like they were crisscrossing,” she said.

“They started standing on top of cars and tipping cars,” she said. “They were climbing on streetlight posts and pushing them over. They had these big bars they were using to hit the street signs and light posts. Half the lights on campus are out. It’s bad. It’s really bad. I’m just so glad that none of the people on Main Street at the Pumpkin Festival knew what was happening.”

George Hebner, a 22-year old senior at Keene State College, said that when he returned home after work that day he saw a “charred black spot in the middle of Blake Street.” He added, “That used to be my couch.”

Plenda reported that some of the “revelers” appeared to be quite pleased with themselves. Steven French, an 18-year-old who said he was visiting from Haverhill, Massachusetts, said, “It’s (expletive) wicked. It’s just like a rush. You’re revolting from the cops…It’s a blast to do things that you’re not supposed to do.”


Former N.H. State Rep. Steve Lindsey described his experience while he was working on Keene State’s campus when the riots broke out. He wrote about it on Facebook.

“Security asked me to lock the double steel doors of the student center. (Rioters) were building a barricade across Winchester Street and looking for material. Our… mail carts and mobile trash barrels would have suited them fine. Hands shaking… I found the right keys and locked the door bars. I went into the center to warn the cooks. The crowd was getting out of hand.”

Plenda wrote that when the time came to leave work, “Lindsey offered to go with his boss to get his car, which was parked in the middle of the melee. Once they got to the car, Lindsey was going to try to clear a path for his boss to back out.”

Lindsay also wrote:

“But he yelled ‘Get in!’ I did but as I did, a big lamp post with a large lantern came crashing down behind us, six feet, and shattered. He drove ahead and crack, a beer bottle smashed against the side of his car. He kept his cool as we weaved in and out of the crowd, We did not want to hit anyone as that would have been the end of us… A second bottle hit our car. Then what I took to be a rock. But we moved ahead away from the maelstrom.”

Oh well, boys will be boys. It was all in a day’s fun. At least there were no scary young black thugs jaywalking in the middle of the street—so police were able to keep their guns holstered. There were no violent rioters like there were in Ferguson, Missouri…PTL


Meanwhile…back in Ferguson, Missouri:

Joanna Rothkop (Salon) reported that last Monday afternoon, ten protesters “approached the St. Louis County Justice Center with a wagon full of pumpkins on which they had written ‘RACISM,’ ‘WHITE PRIVILEGE,’ ‘HATE’ and ‘POLICE BRUTALITY.’” Derek Laney, the protest organizer “vocally condemned the shooting of unarmed teenager Michael Brown…” Laney then “threw a pumpkin to the ground, where it splattered before the feet of several officers…”

“We are going to smash [pumpkins] symbolically at the foot of someone who can bring [the Brown] case to justice,” said Laney. “It’s another way to let people know we will be heard.”

St. Louis Post-Dispatch:

Laney said the staged event also hoped to draw attention to the disparity between the portrayal of the nearly 50 white college students arrested Friday at the annual Keene, N.H. Pumpkin Festival and the characterization of the disruptions in Ferguson following Brown’s shooting.

The Keene State University students, he noted, were described as “unruly,” “causing a ruckus” and “drunken revelers” while the Ferguson demonstrators were identified as “rioters” and “thugs.”

“We’re using that as a jumping off point to insist on justice for Mike Brown,” said Laney, an organizer with Missourians Organizing for Reform and Empowerment.

Laney and two other protesters were arrested. Kevin Gosztola (firedoglake) reported that police “charged protesters with littering offenses and an assault offense. Even though the pumpkin never left one woman’s hands, it was taken away from her, and she was charged with conspiring to litter.”

What could be a more dastardly crime than “conspiring to litter?” Lock her up…and throw away the key, I say!!!


In her Salon article titled White menaces to society: Keene State and the danger of young drunk white men, Brittney Cooper wrote about drunken white revelers in another college town:

On at least two occasions, one of my good friends, a fellow professor, called to say that she had come out to her car on a Saturday night in this college town to find a drunk college kid urinating beside her car. On both occasions, she weighed the benefits of confronting the drunk white guy blocking her access, or simply waiting till he had finished and moved on.

Implicit in her stories was a truth we refuse to tell: These young drunk white men were dangerous. Menacing. And they are made more dangerous precisely because their disrespect for public space and private citizens is seen as mere play, mere college kids having a good time, rather than as a threat.

But what the events in Keene suggest is that white folks often test the bounds and limits of public decency and order with little long-term reprisal. There were some arrests, and some tear gas. But no dead bodies. No stigma about white anger. No come to Jesus meetings about White America’s problem children. No public discourse about these “menaces to society.” As many commentators on Twitter pointed out, there’ll be no articles about the absence of white leadership, or about how white folks just need to learn respect for public property.

How does it feel to be white? Does it feel like freedom? Freedom to piss on people and property with impunity? Freedom to burn shit up and live to tell about it? Freedom to threaten old people and wake up the next morning and chalk it up to drunkenness? License to kill?

This isn’t just about civility. This is, as are most things in this country, about stark and disparate forms of racial treatment. This is about the ways that white threat is largely illegible as  “threat.” This is about the fact that a band of wild, drunken black college kids could not have turned over cars, threatened old people, and shouted about killing the cops and lived

White Privilege Even Applies To Riots – The Proof Is In The Pumpkins (The Young Turks)



Pumpkin festival chaos in Keene, N.H., leaves plenty of blame to go around (Boston Globe)

Police in riot gear respond to crowd near Keene State College (Boston Globe)

Ferguson’s amazing pumpkin-spiced protest reveals America’s repugnant double standard on race: “I wonder if all the white teens in St. Louis County that smash pumpkins on Halloween will face arrest” (Salon)

White menaces to society: Keene State and the danger of young drunk white men–As the Keene State protests showed, some people feel the freedom to piss on people. Guess who they are (Salon)

Frat Culture Clashes With Riot Police at Keene, N.H., Pumpkin Festival: Tear gas, rubber bullets, pepper spray, and SWAT teams were hard pressed to contain the rioters who seemed to delight in destruction at the Keene, N.H., Pumpkin Festival. (The Daily Beast)

Pumpkin Riot, Ferguson & the White Privilege to Turn Down for Whatever (Firedoglake)

After Keene, N.H., riots, soul-searching and a mortified citizenry: Residents fret over a beloved tradition (Boston Globe)

This entry was posted in Crime, Justice, Law Enforcement, Racism, United States and tagged , , . Bookmark the permalink.

50 Responses to Smashing Pumpkins: Miles from Ferguson (MO) in a Thug-less Land Far, Far Away Drunken White Revelers Whoop It Up While Trashing a College Town in New Hampshire

  1. bettykath says:

    The comparison is stark. White teens are just having fun. Those arrested will get a slap on the wrist. Black teens doing similar things are thugs and need to be arrested, beaten, shot, frequently all three and in that order. If they survive, they go to jail, or prison if they have been similarly charged in the past.

  2. Mike Spindell says:


    Surely you must be daft. By some people’s definition white teenagers can’t be a mob, or unruly……why…..they’re…….White. Only people of color can be thugs, don’t you know? Or maybe I’m just being…….sarcastic?

  3. blouise17 says:


    I didn’t see a single military armoured vehicle so it is painfully obvious the Keene police force needs the Wilson Touch.

  4. Elaine M. says:

    And just think of all that white on white crime! It’s time white leaders started to address that problem, doncha think???

  5. blouise17 says:

    “KEENE, N.H. – Police in Keene, N.H. have made the first arrest as a result of asking the public for photos of the violent disturbances that erupted during a family-friendly pumpkin festival last weekend.

    Police say 19-year-old Jacob Clark of Chichester threw a beer bottle at a police officer. He was charged Thursday with a felony count of reckless conduct. He was released on $500 bail and is due back in court Nov. 6.” (CBS)

    Wait a minute, charged and then released on $500 bail for throwing a beer bottle at a policeman!? Definitely lacking the Wilson Touch but then, Clark is white so he’s not a thug.

  6. blouise17 says:


    Yes indeed but I’m really more interested in just where all these white fathers are … these kids wouldn’t be doing this stuff if their fathers had stuck around.

  7. Elaine M. says:


    At least he wasn’t doing something terrible like jaywalking…or conspiring to litter! White boys are revelers–never thugs!

  8. blouise17 says:


    But they’re destroying their own community … am I acting too black when I say that?

  9. Elaine M. says:


    You’re starting to sound like a card-carrying member of the grievance syndicate.


  10. Elaine M. says:

    ‘White on Pumpkin Crime’: Mainstream Riot Coverage from Ferguson, Missouri to Keene, New Hampshire
    Twitter users and others compare difference in images, descriptions between white rioters in Keene and black protesters in Ferguson

    “These are no angels,” Twitter user Isaiah A. Taylor said of the photograph that showed six young white men on top of an overturned car, beer cans aloft, as the crowd on the ground seemed to cheer them on.

    Over the weekend, crowds who attended the annual pumpkin festival in Keene, New Hampshire became violent as the event descended into a riot. Police responded to the scene armed with tear gas and pepper spray. Dozens were arrested and at least 26 were taken to the hospital with injuries as the chaotic night unfolded.

    However, despite the violent crowds and the riot police, major news outlets referred to the event as “rowdy,” and the rioting hordes as “revelers.”

    But as news of the fray spread on social media, observers took the occasion as an opportunity to highlight the vastly different media responses to those in Keene and Ferguson, Missouri, where black activists have recently organized nonviolent protests against institutionalized racism and police brutality.

    Among them was Ebony Magazine’s Jamilah Lemieux, who noted that despite the satirical response to media portrayals of white rioters, there is a serious message to be taken from the disparate coverage. “For all the hashtags and the jokes, we won’t see a media assault on the youth who ruined the festival for acting in ways that were not merely inappropriate, illegal and potentially deadly, but bizarre and wrought with the stench of unchecked privilege,” Lemieux writes. “Unlike the young people who have mobilized in Ferguson for an actual cause, there will likely be few serious ramifications for those who participated in making Keene, New Hampshire the laughingstock of the country, while putting themselves and others at serious risk for injury or death AT A PUMPKIN FESTIVAL.”

  11. blouise17 says:

    “the stench of unchecked privilege”

    Nailed it!

  12. pete says:

    Keene New Hampshires military hardware

  13. I have always wanted to go to a Punkin’ Chunkin’. How far can one throw a pumpkin?

    A few years ago, the actual trebuchet used in an episode of Northern Exposure was for sale. IIRC, the reserve on it was about $100K.

  14. swarthmoremom says:

    Why I read the other day on RIL that there was a war on white people, and that I was helping to wage it. lol

  15. If anything Smom, there is a war on the stupid and the propaganda poisoned and you are helping to wage it. Stupid and intellectually superficial know no color boundary.

  16. Anonymously Yours says:

    Apparently these children were not taught to respect, or they are anarchists in the making.

  17. Anonymously Yours says:

    Gene et al,

    Don’t you know you have to be an echo chamber of the newly gifted faux news talent to fit in to RIL.

  18. Elaine M. says:


    My guess is that they may be headed for careers on Wall Street–where they can continue on with their sociopathic behavior. Instead of trashing a town–they can help to trash the economy/financial system…again.

  19. Elaine M. says:


    P.S. They may be “Dimons” in the rough!

  20. Anonymously Yours says:

    You’re probably right, I know so fairly would we say Messed up souls that went on to make lots of money.

  21. Anonymously Yours says:

    Or former executives of AIG waiting to sue because the bail out they got was not as good as a Dimons…. They were treated like step children.

  22. AY,

    I read the comments to Mark’s last column over there and what I saw? Was that any forum that doesn’t allow the kind of behavior Mark was discussing is perceived as a threat to both propagandists and their brainwashed minions. Apparently Jon thinks that sort of behavior is protected free speech but then again he was dumb enough to buy the “corporations are people” argument of Citizens United. It’s really starting to show as thread after thread over there is reduced to shouting matches and right wing temper tantrums. One of the prime drivers here is that agreement is not required but evidence and logic are required to back up assertions in contrast to RIL where agreement isn’t required so long as you agree with the half-informed teabaggers and corporatists whose idea of debate is simply a checklist of the behavior Mark listed in this column.

    Can’t have actual debate, don’t ya know.

    It’d destroy their fantasy that they aren’t part of the problem.

  23. Anonymously Yours says:

    I guess he’s to rich to pay attention to the little people anymore. But those little people have friends in congress. As one here knows, you know someone whose still there after 35 years.

  24. Anonymously Yours says:

    I did read marks article and I am surprised it didn’t draw more attacks than it did.

  25. Elaine M. says:


    Maybe that’s because some of the sane folks decided not to get into verbal fisticuffs with the teabag crowd.

  26. Anonymously Yours says:

    I’m not part of that crowd. Nick did say he would get me run off, so every time I posted I got deleted. If I said the something under an alias it went unnoticed. Tell me the difference.

  27. bettykath says:

    The difference in treatment is noticed by many, but the question is usually, why do the white kids get away with just a slap on the wrist. I’d rather the conversation was more along the lines of why can’t Black kids be treated more like the white kids. Kids do stupid things, especially boys in their teens. Why can’t Black kids do stupid things that don’t result in their being beaten or killed?

  28. bettykath says:

    AY, If JT doesn’t get rid of nick, he will not have a respectable blog. Many of the responsible commenters have already left. Why can’t he see that nick is a troll?

  29. bettykath says:

    Maybe responsible commenters should be reporting him every time he insults or otherwise inflames. I’ve looked several times for jt’s email for that purpose but couldn’t find it.

  30. bettykath says:

    I was just there, he has another target, barkindog

  31. bk,

    “If JT doesn’t get rid of nick, he will not have a respectable blog. Many of the responsible commenters have already left. Why can’t he see that nick is a troll?”

    The front running theory is summed up in one word: complicity.

  32. Anonymously Yours says:

    Good question BK. Seriously, I agree, to my demise I said what I felt, on the blog and personally. He threatened Elaine with being suspended. So, I feel I am among friends.

    There will be more to follow on I’m not JT…..

  33. Anonymously Yours says:


    Annie is in his sites as well. Anytime anyone voices reason in denouncing the paid propagandist they pay a price. Heck, mark even had posting deleted. I think nick baits and then gets you where he wants and then rats you out.

  34. blouise says:


    Great video!

  35. swarthmoremom says:

    Seems like Darren has it in for Annie. He is the one that outed her, and JT was forced to delete it because some of us spoke up. It really is a waste of time to visit there unless one feels like fighting wingers or to defend Mespo’s or raff’s blogs..

  36. Mike Spindell says:

    I don’t visit RIL, so what you are discussing is above my head, which I think is a blessing. The simple truth is that JT is not the person I thought he was. Then again, Darren who I had recommended originally as a guest blogger, also has turned out not to be the person I thought he was either.

  37. bettykath says:

    I’m disappointed that Darren outed Annie. Bad move. But his comments are at least civil. I, too, am disappointed about JT. I went to his blog b/c of some TV stints where I thought he made sense. I’m extremely disappointed at where I’ve found him to be. I especially looked forward to the guest blogs 🙂 and the great comments. Most of that is gone.

  38. Anonymously Yours says:


    Yeah that was one thing I address to JT directly and asked why he was still allowed access to private emails when one wishes to remain anonymous. As well as the dressing down and further putting of Annie when he addressed that issue in his blog.

  39. Anonymously Yours says:


    I never trusted Darren but to follow his posts. You just can’t take the freak out of a cop.

  40. blouise17 says:


    Did he really out Annie? Holy crap!

  41. Anonymously Yours says:

    Yes Blouise, both Darren and JT.

  42. blouise17 says:

    BTW …Keene police have now formed a task force …”At least 14 arrests among about 50 made during the course of the unruly behavior …” (CBS)

  43. bettykath says:

    I missed the outing, but thoughtit was just Darren. JT also outed her? holy crap (to quote Mr. Barone)

  44. Elaine M. says:


    This one’s for you:

  45. bettykath says:


  46. Elaine M. says:

    FinnaRage Wants You to Rage at Its Parties. So What if It Ends Up a Riot?
    By Melanie Plenda

    Party company FinnaRage, which encourages young partiers to go wild and then films it all, promoted its Keene State events relentlessly. But it says the ensuing riots aren’t its fault.

    “Black out. Or back out. Rage. Get laid. Repeat. Let the kids play.” These are just some of FinnaRage’s words to live by.

    The company, which hosts pop-up parties on or near college campuses, promotes its events through social media with videos showing “epic” adventures of the young, drunk, and eager. Once an event begins, staffers get the party going, encouraging kids to “Rage,” then film it, post it, dream it goes viral.

    FinnaRage is one of a few companies that perform such services, the best known of which is arguably I’m Shmacked, which has been linked to a near-riot at the University of Delaware.

    For weeks leading up to Keene, New Hampshire’s annual Pumpkin Festival, FinnaRage had been advertising that it was coming to Keene State College for the family-friendly event, at which the city attempts to beat the world record for the most lit Jack-o-Lanterns in one place.

  47. blouise17 says:

    Identify these revelers … they need a good talking to and maybe a little community service

  48. blouise17 says:

    One woman told NHPR that her car was surrounded by a mob of students who began to kick and shake the vehicle while driving down Winchester Street.

    “They started yelling directly at my daughter, and when they saw she was crying, they started to do it more,” Stephanie Konopka told the station. “They put their faces in the window and made these horrible faces and screamed these terrible things at her. And I was helpless, I couldn’t get to her. I was just trapped in the car. I couldn’t open the door, I couldn’t move the car. And then they started taking off their shirts and pushing themselves into the windows. At that point she was just beyond consoling.”

    So they weren’t just going after the police. Can you imagine the nightmares that child is going to have?

  49. Pingback: Tim Wise on What White Americans Do Not Know…and Do Not Want to Know | Flowers For Socrates

Comments are closed.