The Daily Tar Heel

Serving the students and the University community since 1893

Monday February 6th

Crazy crowds change to crazy cops

A line of heavily armed men on motorcycles simultaneously rev up their engines preparing to push civilians out of their way. The intimidation factor is heightened by their impenetrable helmets and black uniforms. Behind this tightly packed line of motorcycles marches armed men followed by a huge empty bus, a fleet of patrol cars, and several enormous public works vehicles.

Without knowing the context, it could easily be assumed that this is taking place in the aftermath of a violent military coup where martial law has been enacted and the military is expected to use brute force to maintain civility.

It is not surprising that as steam began coming out of the public works trucks, many dazed — or intoxicated — onlookers presumed that they were being gassed and fled the vicinity. Who could blame them? The number of officers on Franklin Street on Sunday night was overwhelming and verged on ridiculous.

Even Granville Towers, a renowned safe-haven for partying freshmen, tightened its grip. All 1,000 residents had letters taped to their doors that listed consequences for everything from parking violations to alcohol infractions. Management went so far as to require residents and their two guests — yes, two was the limit — to wear wristbands and carry photo identification, without which residents were not let into their own building.

And, to top it all off, they authorized uniformed and undercover law enforcement personnel to make rounds throughout the property to issue citations for open containers and underage drinking.

Sure, safety is important. But I couldn’t help but feel that the efforts of law enforcement and Granville Towers alike were no longer strictly about safety; instead, their over-the-top measures served only to needlessly tame conduct and deplete Franklin Street of any college fun that was to be had.

After all, how much crowd control is really necessary if, according to police spokesperson Lt. Kevin Gunter, only a handful of people’s behavior—out of 35,000 participants—was out of line enough to deserve a citation?

Of course, Halloween was entertaining regardless. But the fun seemed a bit discounted, given the multitude of junior and senior student’s complaints about the increase in cop-to-student ratio. What did the Class of 2014 miss out on?

The extreme policing made me and the rest of the Halloween-on-Franklin virgins miss out on the wild event that marks the halfway point in the first semester of our fully fledged adult lives.

The town of Chapel Hill, Granville Towers, and other entities should seriously consider reviewing their methods of crowd control — their “Homegrown Halloween.” If officials step away from crowd reduction goals for and look objectively at the image painted by the army they deployed to clear Franklin Street, they would see what all of us saw. They would see the absurdity of such severe patrolling of a college event. Hopefully, sometime in the next year, they will make this realization.

If not, tune in next year as town officials invite the full force of the American military to Franklin Street and the Class of 2015 realizes that fun Franklin Street Halloweens are a thing of the past.

Hinson Neville is a columnist from The Daily Tar Heel. He is a freshman business major from Roanoke Rapids. Contact him at nevilleh@email.unc.edu

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