Sunday, August 1, 2021

PSUC reacts to Keene riots

In the wake of the Keene Pumpkin Festival riots last weekend, law enforcement officials have facilitated conversation about how it may have been handled had it happened at Plattsburgh State.

College students at PSUC and across the country witnessed thousands of their peers at Keene State College, located in Keene, New Hampshire, turning Saturday’s annual Pumpkin Festival into a drunken riot, leading to 84 arrests, a flipped car, a fire and multiple injuries through social media.

“Never underestimate the stupidity and mob mentality of drunk teenagers,” Twitter user P. McMahon tweeted Saturday evening.

Keene Police Chief Kenneth Meola said in a Boston Globe article that the problems began around 1 p.m. when police broke up two separate parties with more than 1,000 people in attendance at both.

The disturbance was ended by more than 200 law enforcement officials after nearly eight hours, according to the article.

“Like most New Hampshire citizens, I am outraged by the irresponsible, terrible actions that marred a New Hampshire tradition,” Keene Mayor Maggie Hassan said during a press conference Monday morning. “I am confident that law enforcement will continue to investigate and prosecute individuals who are responsible, and I am calling on New Hampshire colleges and universities to take swift action to hold students involved accountable.”

The incident raises questions about how it would be handled had it happened in Plattsburgh and involved PSUC students.

PSUC University Police Chief Arlene Sabo said the incident was unfortunate, but law enforcement officials develop systems to ensure they will be prepared should an event of that magnitude occur.

“We have had things like this happen in the past in Plattsburgh, not to that level, but we have been made aware of things going on,” Sabo said.

Citing incidents such as a brawl that occured in spring 2012 at Gilligan’s Getaway on Route 9 in Plattsburgh, Sabo said it is not possible for law enforcement officials to know everything that is going on, but they do everything in their power to prevent conflicts from arising.

According to a Clinton County Sheriff’s Office news release that was printed after the incident on May 5, 2012, a fight at the business broke out and led to the arrest of Kerbi Desir, a 25-year-old man from Brooklyn.

Situations like this are not beneficial for any parties involved, Sabo said, which is why University Police and other local law enforcement agencies place such strong importance on preventing them.

In doing so, Sabo said it becomes a multi-agency effort involving not just law enforcement, but business owners and other employees who do not want to see their businesses suffer because of these incidents.

However, Sabo said, it is also important to keep in mind that these situations are not caused by only PSUC students, but can sometimes also be attributed to Clinton Community College students or community members as well.

Email Maggie McVey at

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