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Posted at 11:02 AM ET, 04/11/2010

Police use tear gas to break up JMU party

By Washington Post Editors

Police have used pepper spray and tear gas to disperse what they say was a rowdy crowd of thousands who gathered for an annual open air party near the James Madison University campus.

Lt. Kurt Boshart of the Harrisonburg Police Department said about 8,000 people gathered Saturday afternoon for an off-campus party that usually draws only 1,000 to 2,000. When fights broke out, Boshart said police tried to break up the crowd and some party-goers threw bottles and rocks at officers, leading them eventually to resort to tear gas.

Boshart says more than 30 people have been arrested and charges are pending.
It's unclear why so many people converged on the town of 40,000 this year, but Boshart says he heard the event had been promoted on Facebook.

--Associated Press

By Washington Post Editors  | April 11, 2010; 11:02 AM ET
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mama told me not to come.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | April 11, 2010 11:24 AM | Report abuse

This was definitely a good event gone bad. I am embarrassed for JMU as, even though there was a shocking percentage of non-JMU students in attendance, this will be poorly reflected on a university that is much classier than this event suggests. As a non-participatory JMU student, I ask that all remember that only a few ruined this one for us all.

Posted by: rachel88ann | April 11, 2010 1:14 PM | Report abuse

I'm a student at JMU, and I did not attend any of these parties. This weekend is known as "Springfest," and it's opening weekend for the block parties JMU is so well known for. I do not drink, and I am ashamed that my university is known for such ridiculousness.

Posted by: kellzvb | April 11, 2010 1:40 PM | Report abuse

While this event was embarrassing for JMU and the surrounding community, I think many people have forgotten about the rave in the library in Winter 2009 (fall semester). Either way, I can imagine that applications will rise nearly 10% for fall semester 2011.

Posted by: md_gop | April 11, 2010 5:37 PM | Report abuse

Those aged 18-20 are also adults and not "kids" or "teens", meaning they shouldn't be called those words. Anytime a university or college party gets too rowdy, including too violent, that party must be ceased. The use of tear gas by police officers was justfied because some of them at the party threw rocks at the police officers. Too many thousands of people attended the party.

Posted by: LibertyForAll | April 11, 2010 8:22 PM | Report abuse

As a JMU student who was in the area during Springfest, there were large numbers of individuals from other universities that came to this event with the intentions of getting really messed up and to party without bound. They had no reason to want to respect the property because they did not live here. I'm not saying us JMU students didnt make a mess, but i'm saying the out of town kids threw this event out of proportion.

Also, there were not only college age'd kids going around acting crazy. Many Alum were out for the occasion to party it up. When it comes to who is responsible for the mess, the whole student body can not be charged with it because all of us did not go out to rampage even if we did participate in the event.

Sure, we threw the party, but the actions of few, definitely delegated this outcome.

Posted by: rosesvrs | April 11, 2010 10:39 PM | Report abuse

JMU Pride! When life gives you lemons...sell t-shirts! Visit the Facebook site to buy a shirt and all proceeds will go to repay damages caused in the "riot". This is how our children learn from their mistakes and make a bad day into a win-win for all involved. That's my JMU!

Posted by: shebalane | April 11, 2010 10:48 PM | Report abuse

"It's unclear why so many people converged on the town of 40,000 this year" --

LOL. Maybe because there's a college campus with almost 18,000 students -- most undergrads -- which accounts for a large chunk of that population.

It's not a commuter campus, and the nearest major city is over an hour drive away too. There are also several other college campuses in relatively close proximity to the university as well.

Plain old word of mouth would have been sufficient to get half the student body together for an evening of revelry -- especially once things had snow-balled -- especially in nice weather.

The students definitely need to do a better job of coordinating activities like this with the local community.

Having said that, the videos that have come out seem to indicate that this was just a really, really big party up until the point where the police arrived in Riot Gear. Escalation, begets escalation perhaps. Especially when booze is involved.

The cops probably enjoyed the opportunity to test out some of their riot gear too. I wouldn't be too surprised if the cops had a nice party of their own once they were finished clearing things out.

Posted by: JPRS | April 12, 2010 12:15 AM | Report abuse

The more such encounters with police aggression that middle-class privileged kids have, the better off we'll be as a society when these kids grow up.

When the negative effects of our bloated self-serving security-industrial complex are only felt by the poor and disenfranchised, it's too easy for the rest of us to ignore the problem.

Posted by: 12008N1 | April 12, 2010 12:31 PM | Report abuse

mama told me not to come.

Posted by: SofaKingCool2009 | April 11, 2010 11:24 AM |
That aint the way to have fun.

Posted by: matrox | April 12, 2010 8:19 PM | Report abuse

JMU is full of thug activity like that, so it doesn't surprise me.

Posted by: matrox | April 12, 2010 8:21 PM | Report abuse

First maybe the JMU student commenters should put in some time in English class learning to write, and once they master that they should read the Bill of Rights to apprise themselves of their constitutional rights.
Cops routinely arrest JMU kids for victimless crimes, invading their homes and persons. it's a police state down there and hey kids here's a news flash - college doesn't have to be like that. Most colleges don't let cops come to parties in riot gear. Get outta there and go to a place where the college administration doesn't let cops have free rein on campus.

Posted by: mlcasey | April 13, 2010 10:16 AM | Report abuse

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