Subject: Preventing yet another repeat of the Blarney Blowout From: "Peter Vickery" <peter@petervickery.

com> Date: Mon, March 10, 2014 8:21 pm To: selectboard@amherstma.gov Dear Select Board The disorder on our streets on Saturday, March 8, was outrageous.! Unfortunately it was also predictable.! In May 2003, rioters threw missiles at police officers and vandalized a cruiser.! Ten years later, a crowd of revelers pelted police with bottles and other projectiles.! During the intervening decade we did next to nothing to enforce the social norm that says attacking police officers is beyond the pale.! When we failed to respond effectively we crossed an important line and established a new norm.! As a town we signaled our tolerance for violence against police officers, even though that violence reflects contempt both for the law and for the community those officers are sworn to protect. ! Fortunately, you have it in your power to take a step that would help re-establish some reasonable expectations.! Other communities have done so, including the town of Piha in West Auckland, New Zealand, where one part of the solution to the problem of alcohol-fueled disturbances was the imposition of a temporary alcohol ban. (fn. 1) !Because the large-scale public disorders in Amherst are – like those that blighted Piha – alcoholrelated, I ask you, once again, to consider the following: In cases of “riot or great public excitement” the Select Board has the authority to order the holders of liquor licenses not to sell, give away, or deliver alcoholic beverages for up to three days (M.G.L. c. 138, §8).! So far as I know, no Amherst Select Board has ever used its power under this legislation.! Given the failure of current policies to prevent the uptick in violence, I believe that you should now prepare to do so in readiness for March 2015, and to ask your counterparts in Hadley and other neighboring towns

to do likewise.! And even if other communities do not collaborate, a 48-hour alcohol ban in Amherst alone could help reduce the scale of any future disturbance.! So while a joint approach would be ideal, Amherst should prepare to go it alone. A weekend-long alcohol ban is not a complete remedy, and there are some obvious downsides.! Local bars and restaurants and their law-abiding patrons will undoubtedly suffer.! Diners will experience inconvenience and proprietors will lose revenue.! But the question we face is this: Are we willing to endure the inconvenience of 48 hours without being able to purchase alcohol in order to help the police protect us?! If we are not willing to pay that price in the short term, we will continue to send a clear message that we have succumbed to a sense of learned helplessness and will put up with acts of mob violence targeting our law-enforcement officers.! The long-term consequences will be much worse than the nuisance of an alcoholfree weekend, with our collective definition of an “acceptable level of violence” expanding year by year. !As one component of your planning, which I trust is already underway, I urge you to exercise your statutory power to impose a 48-hour alcohol ban next March so as to forestall a repeat of last weekend’s ignominy. Thank you for your time and attention. Sincerely, Peter Vickery, Esq. 413.549.9933 1. Conway, K. 2002. “Booze and beach bans: turning the tide

through community action in New Zealand.” Health Promotion International, 17(2): 171-177 <http://heapro.oxfordjournals.org/ content/17/2/171.full>

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