Each year Keene, NH hosts a pumpkin festival. In fact, Keene holds the world record for the number of lit Jack O' Lanterns in one location. The festival has always been popular and draws as many as 50,000 people to the small college town each October. Usually there are only a few scattered issues for law enforcement to deal with, but for some reason events transpired at Pumpkin Festival 2014 that endanger the very survival of this event for future years.
Somewhat away from the main festival and close to the Keene State College Campus riots broke out. It is clear that some college students were involved along with other young people who came to Keene from out-of-town. Perhaps some saw this event as a time to lose control, break laws, destroy property, and hurt others. Maybe some believed the police would be powerless to stop such a rampage with everything else going on. These riots were not protests or an expression of disagreement with government policies. The chaos seems to have begun with parties that escalated into mobs roaming the streets causing a great deal of destruction, personal injury, and terror. Of course there are now all kinds of questions. Why did this happen? Who is to blame? Will they be brought to justice? How can Keene make sure this does not happen again? Will the Pumpkin festival continue in future years?
See the NECN video report on the 2014 Pumpkin Festival below.
It did not take long to make the first of many arrests. 19 year old Jacob Clark was charged with a felony count of reckless conduct. It is a requirement under the writ of habeas corpus in the Constitution that the charges be explained to anyone who is arrested for a crime. Clark paid $500 bail and was released pending his trial. There have been more than 40 other arrests to date.
For a final connection to the U.S. Constitution, check out what happened when a public access reporter tried to inform viewers about what was happening near the festival. Would festival organizers be able to shut down the press? Is that Constitutional?
See the action below