The words "riot police" and "pumpkin festival" are not usually heard together, but students in Keene, New Hampshire, faced riot police, rubber bullets and tear gas at the annual pumpkin festival at Keene State College, New England Cable News reported. As a result of rowdy crowds at last year's pumpkin festival, which ended with 140 arrests, and riots after the Red Sox won the World Series, a town commission was created to discuss the issue of off-campus student behavior, the Keene Sentinel reported.
Around 2:30 p.m. Saturday, a group of students gathered at an intersection adjacent to the Keene State College campus. Keene police activated its Special Response Team and called in neighboring Nashua police as a response to the large and unruly crowd, a spokesperson at Keene State College said.
"They just started walking on the street, with, like, mace, tear gas and these rubber bullets," a witness said of the riot police. By the afternoon, at least 30 people were injured, 20 had been transported to hospitals with minor injuries, and 12 were arrested. Just before 10 p.m. Saturday, police fired tear gas into another crowd.
"I got hit with a Jack Daniel's bottle, like across the face," Keene State student Roger Creekmore told WMUR, Manchester. Steven French, 18, a student who was visiting from Haverhill, Massachusetts, told the Keene Sentinel: "It's just like a rush. You're revolting from the cops. It's a blast to do things that you're not supposed to do." Fires ignited Saturday were still burning Sunday morning.
"I am saddened and disheartened at the events surrounding this year's Keene Pumpkin Festival," Keene State College President Anne Huot said in a statement Saturday night. "Despite the concerted efforts of organizers, city officials, police and Keene State College, there continued to be disruptive behavior at parties in multiple locations around the city, injuries and property damage."