JMU Riot.


from NowPublic:

A large crowd of approximately 8,000 people near James Madison University turned into a full-scale riot Saturday. The JMU riot led to the arrest of several dozen party-goers.

Local police reported that rioters threw bottles at police, who were forced to use pepper spray and tear gas to quell the JMU riot.

Around 30 people were arrested and several were injured by broken glass during the afternoon and early evening. A number of fires were started in garbage cans.


9 Responses to “JMU Riot.”

  1. Kris Says:

    It’s important to note that this was not a demonstration, had no explicit statement, or intent to address some injustice. Rather, they were partying and got into fights with the local residents because they were leaving trash about and being loud.

  2. anon Says:

    actually, i think it’s important to note that you have no place to speak for what these kids’ intentions were. true, there was no explicit political statement, but to condemn them on these grounds alone seems to me a dangerous moralization. people come together to enjoy themselves collectively in a self-organized, non-commercial venue and wind up fighting the police and destroying shit in order to do so. it’s true, college riots are an ancient tradition of blowing off steam. if you do a little more reading on this you will find that this event was much larger than in years past. who knows what will become of youthful rowdy gatherings as the recession deepens. revolution does not always come waving banners and identifying itself with some ideological cause, but as a rejection of suffocating daily life, anonymous, even seemingly purposeless.

    college riot as species being? maybe yes, no, both. who the hell are you to say, basically? what position other than a cop are you taking to condemn and judge the actions people take against the boredom and the existential poverty of student life? what else would you like us to say than, with you, perhaps “how well deserved the beatings, the tear gas, the pepper spray”?

  3. k. Says:

    quite the second post, pretty quick to make people out to be cops. and what of the oppression of privilege that partying college kids participate in routinely? had they not fought police would this still have been worth posting? last i checked, any time you flaunt economic and social privilege while disrespecting communities you are at worst gentrifying and at best just an asshole.

  4. anon Says:

    1. “make people out to be cops”? show me where? you can’t, because i asked a question, one that you didn’t both to answer except by implying it to be a statement instead. which i guess affirms it in a weird way?
    2. “oppression of privilege”? not sure what you mean here. maybe you need to refresh yourself on the dismal economic prospects of our generation, college-educated or otherwise? is fighting police an expression of privilege; an abuse of it; or both? are you one of these people who has an idea there is absolute rather than relative systemic privilege and that the way to deal with it is by renouncing it as an individual?
    3. no, it probably wouldn’t have been as worthy of posting had it not been so conflictual. i guess when you appoint yourself as a representative of ‘anarchy’, at least in cyberspace, it can be dismaying when people in the real world actually revolt without asking your permission or advice before hand, but if this is what you want then you are missing the point. we want to keep an eye on the resistance of our generation even when it is nihilistic and decadent, and when the people doing it haven’t read our zines, etc.

  5. Ithink Says:

    I think this is an important story because it points towards, in my opinion, the pure potentiality that can be found in youth today. The interesting thing in a riot (whether or not it is politically motivated in appearance) is that it points towards some point of rupture.

  6. hating the state in the Valley Says:
    the above site offers an interesting local anarchist/communist perspective.
    its worth noting most of these arrested were not students, not to mention characterizing all students at a mid tier state school as unacceptably privileged is a bit absurd.
    as far as i can tell from various accounts a bunch of young people of various social backgrounds were drinking and being rowdy, and the cops attacked them. simple as that.

  7. hating the state in the Valley Says:

    “quite the second post, pretty quick to make people out to be cops. and what of the oppression of privilege that partying college kids participate in routinely? had they not fought police would this still have been worth posting? last i checked, any time you flaunt economic and social privilege while disrespecting communities you are at worst gentrifying and at best just an asshole.”
    anybody who is familiar with local Harrisonburg conditions would find the above statement nonsense.
    the area it occurred in is a isolated suburban district of low quality and cheap student housing.

  8. rocktownrebel Says:

    We thought we should clarify the political situation in Harrisonburg as there is a lot of misinformation being presented.

    Firstly, out of all the kids arrested for rioting, all but two were black. Given the history of race in the US, it is absurd to continue to defend the position that these kids were “privileged”.

    Secondly, Harrisonburg VA is nothing like Eugene or San Francisco, it’s a small Southern city. Very few public social events occur and when they do it is usually of a very small size. Thus, it was not only “privileged” college students who were at the party, but everyone, including full-time residents of the city’s impoverished north side and the equally impoverished Rockingham County which surrounds the city.

    Thirdly, there is currently no successful program of “gentrification” occurring in Harrisonburg – our city is almost entirely comprised of highly marginalized wage workers workers, which includes the JMU student body. There are organizations such as the Harrisonburg Downtown Renaissance which are attempting – quite unsuccessfully – to gentrify downtown Harrisonburg. However, it should be noted that typical JMU students are not a predominate force within this tendency, it’s mostly comprised of bureaucratic professionals who work for organizations such as Rosetta Stone and the Fairfield Center. The advocates of gentrification actually tend to appeal to the lowest rungs of our rural petit-bourgeoisie, and anti-sprawl sentiment in general, by criticizing the construction of sprawling suburban slums such as the one where the riot took place, in favor of an “up-not-out” civic planning policy which seeks to turn downtown Harrisonburg’s last bastions of working-class housing (such as the Kiesel building) into hip condominiums.

    Fourthly, as has been said before, JMU is not an affluent college like nearby UVA. Most JMU students are debt-slaves, who support themselves through wage labor, and whose majors are preparing them for nothing more than permanent assimilation into the minimum wage workforce. I have been inside the houses of the neighborhoods where this riot occurred, and they are literally no better than the poor slums of the city’s northeastern ghettos. In fact, student housing developments are frequently converted into slum-housing for Harrisonburg’s most socially and economically marginalized full-time residents. (eg: Madison Manor on the city’s far north-east) One slumlord, William Reiner, is notorious for maintaining entire neighborhoods of sub-standard housing which are just as likely to be packed with JMU students as they are African, Euro-Appalachian, and Latino townies. There have been neighborhoods of the city, such as Old South High st. and J.M. Apartments, which have for decades served simultaneously as slums for both JMU students and more permanent sectors of Harrisonburg’s work-force such as New Africans, Latino imigrants, “rednecks”, etc. As of yet, no gentrification has occurred.

    It is true that full-time residents of Harrisonburg as a rule hate JMU – this is because of JMU’s role in spear-heading destructive sprawl. (eg: Demolishing working-class neighborhoods on Main st. via eminent domain to build a new arts complex) However, this sprawl, while harmful and displacing, cannot be categorized as gentrification, and the students themselves are certainly not a force of gentrification. (As a footnote, this all began mostly under the Carrier administration, in which JMU President Carrier gave developers benefits for considering the city…these benefits included the pimping out of female JMU students. Under Kris’ sick logic, these female student-workers who were being sexually and economically exploited were also complacent in “gentrification”)

    It’s important to note that while this obviously wasn’t a politically conscious riot, it is the job of communists is not to “preach to the choir” but to relate our ideas to peoples’ daily lives, and of course to recognize all social tension as a symptom of capitalist oppression and to support the workers when they defend themselves from attacks from the state. It’s also important to note that there has been a recent trend, although certainly not a new one, at least in the US, of socialists attacking workers who directly challenge capitalism as being “privileged”. (eg: the recent riots in Oakland, Pittsburgh, and Vancouver, the student-occupation movements in California and New York, the anarchist response to the Obama inauguration in ’08, etc.)

  9. rocktownrebel Says:

    Also the only “fights with local residents” that occurred were fights with parasitic landlords who were struggling to protect their property. The party-goers would literally had to have hiked at least a mile across town to find any predominately townie neighborhoods to harass.

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