Friday, April 11, 2008

‘Riot at the Click of a Mouse’: Cedarfest 2008 Behind the Tear Gas

Originally Published at

“In retrospect, this entire thing seems like a bizarre sociological experiment.” That’s what Michigan State University (MSU) student Robert Frisk wrote on the Facebook group he founded called I Got Gassed At Cedarfest 2008.

Frisk was referring to the “riot” that developed in East Lansing, Michigan on April 6, when he and 3000 to 4000 of his fellow students gathered for a block party at Cedar Village Apartments. What began as good natured fun on the first warm night of the year, ended with a few bad apples ripping up street signs and throwing beer bottles at East Lansing Police Department (ELPD) officers.

The ELPD responded with tear gas canisters, and 52 arrests, including 28 MSU students. The University has suspended six students so far. MSU officials and the police suggest that more punishments may be doled out as authorities review video of the incident.

The police have the luxury of reviewing their own footage as well as the evidence collected by dozens of partygoers with camera phones who have preserved the event by posting video online. YouTube videos show students anticipating, even provoking the inevitable as they taunted the police with cries of “We want tear gas! We want tear gas!”

East Lansing has endured a series of alcohol induced civil disturbances since the late 1980s, and according to Frisk, the legend of campus riots past fueled the frenzy this time. The Michigamme, Michigan native and I discussed the events during an online chat.

Click HERE to Read The Interview

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