A writer for the popular progressive news site AlterNet argued that news reports portraying Saturday’s “pumpkin riots” near Keene State College as a bunch of drunken hooligans instead of dangerous criminals is an example of white privilege, white supremacy, and racism.
“In a stark and clear manner, white privilege and white supremacy color how the obnoxious and violent behavior of the white rioters at Pumpkinfest is described by the media,” according to “Chauncey DeVega” of AlterNet, who writes under a pseudonym.
“Black folks who are protesting with righteous rage and anger in response to the killing of Michael Brown in Ferguson have been called ‘thugs,’ ‘animals,’ and cited by the Right-wing media as examples of the ‘bad culture’ and ‘cultural pathologies’ supposedly common to the African-American community,” he argues. “Privileged white college students who riot at a pumpkin festival are ‘spirited partiers,’ ‘unruly,’ or ‘rowdy.’”
On Saturday, hundreds of “students” poured into the streets of Keene, New Hampshire, for its annual pumpkin festival, which attracts an estimated 70,000 to the city each year and is held near Keene State College.
The partying quickly escalated to rioting. Cars were flipped, couches were burned, and beer bottles were thrown as dozens were injured, while police in riot gear worked to quell the chaos.
The Boston Globe reported that 30 people were injured and 84 arrested in a news report that described the rioters as “disturbing” and “extremely serious.”
In official statements, Keene President Anne Huot described the rioters’ actions as “outrageous” as well as “unlawful and disruptive.” Keene State College, a public college of roughly 5,400 students, added that some had promoted the festival “as a destination for destructive and raucous behavior” and officials are reviewing the riots to determine if expulsions may be necessary.
But according to DeVega, the cause of rioting runs deeper than drunkenness, hormones, and bad decisions, describing the riot as an example of “a type of social practice and habit” among white people.
DeVega also complains that the race of the rioters was not reported by news outlets “because Whiteness has no stigma or connection to criminality and violence as seen through the White Gaze.”
However, there are also no reports from police blaming the riots on race.
As far as arrests made, “most involved disorderly conduct or alcohol-related offenses,” Keene police told the Huffington Post. It’s also unclear how many of the rioters were actually Keene State College students, as many visitors go to Keene for the weekend of festivities, authorities said.
“We are devoted to our community and very much engaged with our community,” Student Body President Bobby Graham told the Huffington Post. Keene State College students also gathered the next morning to help clean the mess up.
But DeVega uses the pumpkin riot to posit that while people are actually racist criminals.
“The racial innocence of Whiteness is one of America’s greatest lies as white folks, here demonstrated by acts such as racial genocide against First Nations peoples and racial pogroms against blacks, are the most violent and destructive group of people in the history of the United States,” he said.
College Fix reporter Derek Draplin is a student at the University of Michigan.
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