With autumn comes the changing of the leaves, decorative gourds, and a faint odor of something burning in the newly chilly air.
Nope, that's not a fireplace. That's the smell of a riot.
In the New Hampshire town of Keene this weekend, residents made their way to the annual pumpkin festival, presumably to carve jack o' lanterns and eat pie. But when out-of-towners and rowdy college students showed up to party, that calm quickly devolved into chaos.
People began throwing bottles, flipping Dumpsters, and setting things on fire. In response, the local police deployed officers with "with canine units, SWAT gear, tear gas, tasers, and pepper spray," according to the Boston Globe. Witnesses say that many of the perpetrators were students from Keene State College, the University of New Hampshire, the University of Rhode Island, and University of Massachusetts.
“There were about 4,000 kids in this backyard, and it almost felt like a war zone,” a Keene State sophomore told the paper.
According to the Globe, as the police began shooting tear gas, students "dropped to the ground on their hands and knees coughing and spitting; one leaned forward with his hands on his knees and vomited." Another screamed, "Oh God, kill me now.”
The event regularly draws thousands of people from around the region, but it doesn't normally end in violence. Many of the students reportedly spilled over from Keene State parties; the rioting continued into the night despite the police response.
"Pumpkinfest has always been fun,” a Keene state alumnus told the Globe. “Yeah, kids drink excessively, but it’s never been out of control." (NYPost)