This past Saturday, I became an eye witness to what the term ‘police state’ really means. The following is a letter to the editor that I wrote to the school newspaper the following day. I’m not sure if riot control has been used on any other Universities, other than during the Pittsburgh G20. Please spread this message!
I am writing as a response to the events that took place at the Wheeler Block Party at Western Illinois University this past Saturday. It is of my opinion that the destruction of property should not be allowed. It is also my opinion that the actions taken by the police were extremely excessive and sadly predictable.
The police presence throughout the majority of the day provided a peaceful atmosphere for the students. As the day developed, police could be seen asking people for identification and making sure the roads were kept clear. I’d been hearing warnings about attending the block party for weeks, and even rumors of riot police. Finally attending the block party had me thinking that all of the rumors had been false, but then something interesting happened.
The police were no longer keeping the street clear, but instead they formed a line towards the east end of Wheeler Street. The police watched on as students lit boxes on fire and broke down a stop sign, actions that should have been stopped, and probably would have been had they occurred an hour earlier. It seemed, in my opinion, that the police were allowing actions to take place in order to be able to use the riot gear that they spent all of our money on.
Approximately 25 riot control officers with the West Central Illinois Mobile Field Force began marching back and forth down Wheeler Street. Anybody found within their chosen path, the entire street and all of its yards, was subject to arrest, assault, chemical agents, and even LRAD. The Long Range Acoustic Device used against the students on Saturday has a continuous output of 149dB, nearly twice the level that can cause hearing loss. A combination of LRAD and all of the excessive police violence I saw take place on Saturday does not make me feel as if the police are keeping me safe.
A lot of people were arrested and injured on Saturday; some deserved it, most did not. I believe we have a bit of a situation at hand here. We can accept our tax dollars being spent on mace and sound cannons to be used against us, or we can strongly oppose the use of excessive force. I’m choosing the latter.
We have a rally planned for this Thursday.Published in