Each year before Halloween, the Keene Pumpkin Festival, also popularly known as Pumpkin Fest or P-Fest, is held in Keene, New Hampshire. During the annual celebration, local residents and citizens from around the area attempt to amass the largest number of lit jack-o'-lanterns in one place.
Last year, the Keene revelers managed to break a world record set by Boston in 2006 by lighting 30,581 pumpkins at the same time.
However, this time around, the festival turned rather chaotic.
Cars were flipped, bottles were smashed and other dangerous objects were thrown at passersby over the weekend when a large group of Keene State college students and others turned parts of the town into a battlefield.
Things got so messed up that cops in riot gear had to be called in to disperse the crowd with the help of tear gas and pepper balls.
The Keene Sentinel reported numerous injuries throughout the day, many caused thrown glass bottles and fireworks. Multiple people were also transported to a nearby hospital.
Here are some images from the rioting:
Riot. Burn Fire BURN #pumpkinFestival #riots
The war-zone from yesterday #headsup #nochill
right before i had to merk out cause of the tear gas. #Pumpkinfest #Riots
The social media photos and videos from the incident went viral, prompting furious online backlash from people and several media outlets with many comparing “unfair” news coverage of the riots to the mass protests in Ferguson, Missouri.
Where are the leaders in the white community? They need to speak out #pumpkinfest— Brian Fleurantin (@BrFleurantin) October 19, 2014
No one is claiming there aren't concerns about media coverage of different races, but violence to create disorder remains the main problem in both the cases of Ferguson and Keene.
In August, dozens of demonstrators took to the streets in Missouri after Mike Brown, an unarmed African-American teenager, was killed by a police officer Darren Wilson. However, amid the peaceful protests, reports of vandalism started to emerge after thousands of people had packed St. Louis at a vigil for Brown.
Looting affected a number of businesses, including Domino's Pizza, Papa John's, McDonald’s, an auto parts store, grocery shop, technology store, a local liquor store and a QuikTrip gas station that was burned to the ground.
As peaceful as the protests remained overall, there is no doubt about the fact that a bunch of opportunist vandals – many of them out-of-town criminals – tried to hijack the sit-ins.
And just as it happened in Ferguson, the Pumpkin Fest miscreants are facing the consequences for their actions. At least 49 people were arrested in Keene, according to the Associated Press. And as for the college students, those found involved face interim suspension and/or expulsion.
“We are reviewing images, videos, media coverage, social media postings and information we have about off-campus residences,” said Anne Huot, the president of Keene State College, in a statement on the school’s website. “The most serious offenders will face interim suspension, followed by conduct action up to, and including, expulsion.”