When a riot isn’t a riot

The so-called riots in Dinkytown were just a fun game gone awry.

Riots just ainâÄôt what they used to be, but the University of MinnesotaâÄôs kooky substitute to the Talib Kweli concert provided fruits nonetheless. School spirit is higher than ever and I will not be surprised to see The Vault at The Bank jumping around with the same sort of energy seen in Dinkytown on Saturday. âÄúI donâÄôt play video games, but man, I heard those exploding sounds and it was like, âÄòOK, gotta find something to hide behind,âÄô âÄù one girl told me, standing a block away from Spring Jam: RockinâÄô the Playground âÄô09. It is quite nice when our real lives imitate video games at the University, and a person is left with a sense of freedom. Saturday night was a night of freedom, too, probably started by a few loud, untended drunks and followed along by a flock of students shedding their personalities for that of the group. The idiot-replacement theorem, in other words. In celebration of good weather and good drink, the Dinkytown area started a friendly fire. The playground rocked and the pile of flaming garbage smiled as the community poured its empty beer boxes onto it. âÄúWhat else we got to burn? Give us some more stuff to burn!âÄù They threw a sign on, knowing metal would be much better than wood to build a fire. The boys, one after another, gleefully jumped over the flames to the cheers of the crowd, and everyone was having such a good time, but then those two guys had to come with hoses to douse it all out! Lame! âÄúBOOO!!!âÄù was all that the responsible gentlemen received from the loyal Gopher fans. The nightâÄôs activities were overwhelmingly entertaining (barring some party-poopers), and I think most will agree that Dinkytown became that playground we all so desperately desire. What a nice break from studying. You start drinking at noon, are hammered by six, and nobody is wiser at the end of the night when flash grenades go off and your friends are together in being sprayed with chemical irritants. Rioting sure beats studying or work, eh? But this was not a riot, really. When I think of riot, I think of a cause âÄî the assassination of a leader, the oppression of a right, the call for attention to a need not addressed by the world present. When they âÄúriotedâÄù Saturday night, werenâÄôt they just bored? What cause was there? âÄúAnybody got some ragsâÄù a kid asked in hopes of crafting mock-Molotov cocktails to throw at the police. Nobody had any, spoiling his dreams of teargas for the night. The crowd wanted to react to something, so they needed anything on which to act. Five-o, five-o, pigs and bacon, screw you, screw you. Their aggressive calling out to the police evidenced unrest, but even that was a passive prod, done in hopes of being chased and presumably tagged out in one big game of freeze tag. WerenâÄôt the bottles thrown at the police then returned in kind with chemical irritants and projectiles? That seems like an unfair game. Cop cars and riot vans lined the streets. They attempted to stamp out any trouble with sheer force. The playground supervisors would not play tag with the students this night, unfortunately. âÄúI think they might have gotten the message tonight,âÄù said Minneapolis police Sgt. Jesse Garcia at a 1 a.m. press conference. Yes, not everyone wants to play on our playground, but letâÄôs just be thankful we have the jungle-gym of a University to play on before we have to get jobs or go on to more schooling. Repeat: this was not a riot. Students never want to riot. Maybe next weekend we can play again, huh? Matt Grimley welcomes comments at [email protected]