The destructive nature of disorder

Recent attacks on Nicollet Mall are another example of out-of-control public behavior.

Andrew Johnson

Who knew that the statue of Mary Tyler Moore throwing her hat into the air to the memorable “You’re gonna make it after all!” lyric would later apply as encouraging words to those trying to escape Nicollet Mall without getting ambushed.

While Moore’s character’s biggest problems were making it through a broadcast without Ted Baxter unashamedly flubbing a line or withstanding Mr. Grant’s gruff exterior — how’s that for timely pop culture references in 2012? — Minneapolitans walking around that very same part of the city are now worrying about avoiding a recent series of “flash mob” attacks. It’s hard to turn the world on with your smile when your teeth are getting kicked in.

Over the past couple of months, downtown Minneapolis has been the scene of six separate attacks by youths on bystanders and passersby. According to witnesses, grainy footage and the fuzzy memories of hospitalized victims, these assaults have seen anywhere from 10 to 30 assailants take part. Alarmed by this outbreak of random violence on innocent people making their way down the city’s busiest streets, the Minneapolis Police Department is now considering implementing curfews in the area for teenagers.

Oh, those troublemaking youths. Why can’t they just behave themselves and leave the public alone? Then again, wasn’t Dinkytown sprinkled with cop cars and police horses on nearly every corner just last Thursday? That’s right, they were. Why was that? Because they feared a bunch of supposedly mature college students might start rioting if their hockey team won a game thousands of miles away in Tampa, Fla.

Nevertheless, Gophers fans were able to conduct themselves in a suitable and restrained manner — it’s hard to be too riled up when your spirits were just quashed after a 6-1 battering. In all seriousness though, I’m glad the student body didn’t use the outcome of the game to fuel riots and violence in our surrounding community or to turn a shared union of maroon and gold into disjointed destruction with black and blue. In the end, all the police attention looked silly, but their presence wasn’t so ridiculous. As public disorder scarily continues to climb, we unfortunately demonstrate that we’re not capable of policing ourselves, which results in the police having an excuse to keep an ever more watchful eye on us.

I wasn’t on campus last time the Gophers won the championship that led to those infamous riots, but I lived right by the corner where the Spring Jam outbreaks took place a couple years ago; in fact, tear gas seeped into my open living room window that night. I recall seeing students taunting police by shouting, “Try and stop us!” to which I can only imagine the police matter-of-factually responding with, “Well, it’s kind of my job to do that.” Property was destroyed, people were injured and rowdiness became tearfully fleeing cowardliness. Fast forward to last week, and you see why the University of Minnesota and Minneapolis saw a need to ensure there wasn’t a repeat: not for their own sake and protection but for our own.

Disobedience to the most basic standards of a functioning society — respecting others and their property — leads to a need for increased supervision. As empowering as it may seem to sing the rouser around a flaming trash can, jeer at the police from behind your picket line or beat up a couple walking back from a downtown bar on St. Patrick’s Day, it’s not actually giving you commanding authority; it’s asking for more of it.