Letters to the Editor / Opinion

Deltopia 2014: Not so Black and White After All

Responses to the riots on Saturday have played out on social media in a hive mind collective consciousness of disbelief and confusion, of blame and shame. Of course, it’s the out-of-towners who are at fault right? Or maybe the SBCC students who invited them? Perhaps it’s Deltopia in general which, like Halloween, has spun way outside of our community’s control?

I, like many of my UCSB peers, journeyed out onto the streets on Saturday, drinking early and well into the afternoon, napping to rally for the evening ahead. Around 3 p.m. I took a seemingly boring and drunkenly angled photo of a Sheriff Rescue Lenco BearCat armored vehicle parked next to the Isla Vista Foot Patrol station. I didn’t think much of it until I saw that same armored vehicle barricading the corner of Del Playa Drive and Camino del Sur at 9:45 p.m., only a few houses down from where I live.

And we all know what happened next — or do we? Everyone seems to have an opinion about the riots yet most weren’t even there. I sat on my balcony facing the 66 block of DP from 7:30 to 9:30 p.m. (Adderall is a strange drug) and people-watched. From my perspective, those walking up and down the street didn’t seem that out of control; I’ve seen the same sketchy fuckfaces our community loathes on normal weekend nights acting way more disrespectful. I didn’t see a single fight during Deltopia. I don’t doubt there were a few, but as someone who goes out three or more nights a week I’m fairly used to drunken aggressive idiots getting into it. So it seemed pretty unusual to walk from party to party during the day and early evening and not come across any — during Deltopia, no less.

The point being that, leading up to the riot, the crowd on DP was not some mob causing problems. The daytime tens-of-thousands had thinned out, and the amount was pretty normal sized for a Saturday night. Why were there officers dressed in riot gear and armored vehicles in I.V. all day? What did the police think would happen when they decided to charge down DP at 10 p.m., clashing with people who had been drinking all day?

If you search “Deltopia 2014” on YouTube, my three-minute video documenting the riot is one of the first to pop up. And you know what it shows? The riot started AFTER the cops lined up with shields and an armored vehicle. It shows a select few individuals (read: fucking dipshits) throwing bottles, yelling “Fuck the police” and inciting more to join. And above all it shows that with tear gas and fear, the cops chose to abruptly stop Deltopia exactly when they wanted to do so. By blockading DP right where the 66 and 67 blocks meet, police ensured that anyone and everyone walking in that direction would have run into it. It was only a matter of time before some sketchy fools would react.

In all likelihood, the police and County of Santa Barbara had planned to break up Deltopia at the first sign of trouble. The armored vehicle and riot police were positioned in I.V. all day; it’s not like a riot broke out and THEN the cops called in for backup from SWATT. They planned to use a show of force to clear Del Playa at a signal of enough-is-enough (we now know it was when a cop was struck in the head at the beginning of the 67 block of DP with a bottle-filled backpack.)

A showdown occurred Saturday between police trying to stop the festivities and young adults not willing to end their night early. But this wasn’t some chaotic riot that burst open on its own. We allowed out-of-towners into our city — shit, some of you might’ve invited them — and the county and police restricted parties by twisting another ordinance to fit their agenda; they then chose to end the night on their terms by any means necessary. By using violence themselves they made retaliating violence essentially inevitable, especially considering the amount of non-students who poured in for the weekend. It’s true there was a riot on Saturday, but I think it’s incredibly important to understand who started it.

This cops vs. students battle royale bullshit narrative that the media has spun to condescend our community is utter fucking nonsense. I know a few people who are conspiratards, looking for conflicting information when there isn’t any, and hoping to uncover cracks in the story we’re told. I don’t consider myself one of them, but I can’t sit back and watch an unfair portrayal of what happened become the only account of Saturday’s events. Riot police and armored vehicles were positioned in I.V. BEFORE any “rioting” occurred. Isn’t it possible that there was a plan to break up the party at a particular time? Do you really think the county isn’t thrilled at what the response was, that they now have the force of the national media decrying a party scene they themselves have tried to eliminate so far with no avail? I hate to sound so jaded … but what happened Saturday isn’t so black and white.

Sean Carroll is a fourth-year political science major.

A version of this article appeared in the Thursday, April 10, 2014 print edition of the Daily Nexus.
Views expressed on the Opinion page do not necessarily reflect those of the Daily Nexus or UCSB. Opinions are primarily submitted by students.


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  1. “In all likelihood, the police and County of Santa Barbara had planned to break up Deltopia at the first sign of trouble.”
    There was not one single sentence that I read from your article that made me agree in anyway. That sentence I quoted from your article makes no sense. Of course the police wanted to break up Deltopia at the first sign of trouble. What did you expect them to do? Wait until IV gets taken over by thousands of drunk idiots? They weren’t going to sit around and wait for something to strike up. We already had stabbings, near riots, and sexual assaults in the weeks prior, why continue it? Funny thing is that the police in Santa Barbara are great cops. Three officers injured and taken to the hospital that nice, yet not one story or case of them being abusive. Try injuring the LAPD officers, see what happens. Yeah our police officers used tear gas, because people stayed on DP yelling ‘fuck the police’ AFTER the officers told them to leave. I can’t even think straight because of the anger you caused me to have from reading this stupid article. It agitates me when people hate on the police. If you really do hate them, don’t go calling them when you get robbed or attacked.

  2. Henry Sarria says:

    And some how, some way, I (& many other readers) am supposed to believe an adderall addict? You’re a DOUCHETARD! Fuck douchetopia, it’s a done deal.

  3. Nerdvine?

    I am not offended by the Nexus because I try to cut slack for college age writers. I have much less tolerance for the LA Times.

    Maybe I am older than I thought (68) but it does seem improper to have that kind of subject matter in a campus paper which is read by the entire student body. If you want to put it in a Free Press, go ahead.

    As for Irvine, you are correct that is a commuter type school, but there are dorms and lots of nighttime activities going on here. I am unaware of any incident at UCI close to what happened at Isla Vista. Different culture? Perhaps. Maybe I implied as much. Most of our students, over 50%, are Asian-American. You generally don’t see them involved in this nonsense (There are exceptions, of course).

    As for a culture I am unfamiliar with, I don’t know. I raised my share of hell as a young guy (I grew up in the 50s-60s, but never did riot) and have spent 11 years of my life overseas with other cultures. If there is something I don’t understand, it’s probably a generational gap. But if what I have seen over the past month represents the culture of UCSB, I say they have a problem.

    (I did buy a UCSB shirt while I was on campus though.)

    • tinklejoss says:

      Uh… in 1970 the Bank of America was burned to the ground at Irvine. Yes, Irvine, the Irvine BofA was burned about 6 months after the Isla Vista BofA was burned.

  4. First of all, is it really necessary in a newspaper to use the expletive deleteds?

    Secondly, this seems to be the theme of the UCSB reaction to the riot. It was the cops’ fault. It was outsiders. The second theme reminds me of Vice Chancellor Young’s reaction to the incident involving one of your professors a couple of weeks back. Blame everybody but the perps.

    There seems to be something very wrong at UCSB. When I was on your campus last week, this same paper had a full-page article on how to give oral sex. Wow. Not to be a prude, mind you, but is that what a campus paper should be featuring? Wasn’t anybody offended, to use that shopworn term?

    I have been a part-time teacher at UC Irvine for 16 years. While hardly perfect, I cannot imagine UCI students engaging in what happened at Isla Vista. And we have the only on-campus pub in the UC system-with no problems.

    You should be embarrassed.

    • AnotherAlum says:

      You are clearly not the target audience of the paper. It’s not surprising that you hail from Nerdvine and conservative Orange County. UCI is also a commuter school without a concentrated student population right next to it. Different cultures, my man. Maybe it’s best not to project your sense of acceptable on a culture that is foreign to you. The Nexus has been pushing boundaries since I was a student 20+ years ago. It ain’t the LA Times. If you’re offended, don’t read it.

    • Over 90% of the arrests and citation were non UCSB students. Based on the twit-pics and riot selfies and all that junk circulating the interweb a portion of that 90+% was, in fact, UCI students. I’m not saying that UCI was a large percentage or the instigators or anything like that. I’m just saying you don’t have to “imagine UCI students engaging in what happened at Isla Vista,” you can just look at their facebook/instagram/twitter accounts and see the pictures.

      • BTW, you must have read the paper on a Wednesday. Wednesday is always the hump day edition. It’s not my particular cup of tea, but it’s tradition. Princeton Review ranked UCSB’s Daily Nexus in the top 10 (9th to be exact) of all campus newspapers. Where did UCI’s student paper rate, I don’t see it on the list?

  5. This reads a little bit like: “Trust me I was drinking heavily all day and on drugs! It’s not black and white, it’s all their fault! Why was law enforcement, enforcing the law anyway?”

    Two people were stabbed and multiple cops were put into the hospital BEFORE any of the riot gear or unlawful assembly calls came out.

  6. Your story, filled with partial remembrances and intoxicated notions does nothing more than prove that you know little more than most others do. It is a fact that a police officer was assaulted initially, and that 3 officers sent to assist were then also assaulted. Perhaps you missed the dispatch calls for backup from as far as UC Irvine (anyone with internet or a CB radio can listen to the dispatch frequencies). You say this is a story that isn’t so black and white yet you’ve just argued for the other side of a the coin, not somewhere in the middle. Perhaps it was a combination of drunken party-goers surrounded by a visible police presence at the end of a long sunny day and inhibitions were a bit looser than your average Saturday night? Perhaps our constant embracing of our party culture attracts the types of individuals that have no regard for our community and our police force? Deltopia came to an incredibly chaotic end and until the Civil Grand Jury investigation is over it will be hard to know how exactly events played out. The phalanx that you describe was erected to protect the injury police officers until medical help could arrive, or do you think that the officer struck in the head with a backpack full of glass bottles simply shook it off?

    The county cares more that our party culture brings national attention then the fact that it happens at all. College students party, and will no matter what school you attend. However, it rather naive to think that city officials everywhere want to squash all our fun simply because we’re young and wild.

    All this article does is off-put the blame onto some one else, when in reality it’s a combination of multiple parties acting in conflict with each other that reached a breaking point. IV should not be left to itself and those that think so are incredibly ignorant of how much more dangerous it would be with a diminished police presence. IVFP should not take actions that make the community feel on edge, such as installing video camera towers without community feedback. Students shouldn’t organize such massive parties that are organized on public social media and then play dumbfounded with thousands upon thousands of visitors show up and disrespect our town. Let’s stop pointing fingers and start working together to create a town that we can all be proud of while still giving us the freedom that a college experience affords.

    • AnotherAlum says:

      In following this story closely, even prior to Deltopia, whenever someone suggests the police played a role in the resulting riot, people jump to the conclusion that the police are being blamed. I don’t see it this way. I think most of us can agree that the police act very forcefully when one of their own is in peril. In fact, they react much more forcefully than when it is a civilian who has been attacked. I am not drawing judgment but stating a well known fact. Just look at the LAPD cops that opened fire on two pickup trucks in their pursuit of cop killer Dorner. Cops just go agro when they are threatened. It’s also true that most people who were on DP had no idea what happened several blocks away. All they knew was that they were faced with arbitrary and militarized force. Btw, how much does anyone wanna bet that the Bearcat was funded by the Department of Homeland Security? Industrial military complex, anyone? Anyway, it’s not surprising that a bunch of young and drunk males would meet arbitrary force (from their POV) with defiance. If we’re not willing to be critical that cops react aggressively in a “cop down!” situation, then I don’t think we should be so willing to be critical of an angry mob. It is what it is, folks. I understand both sides of the coin. Not judging, just trying to explain the dynamics.

      • AnotherAlum says:

        Btw, I agree with the crux of what alum wrote, especially the part about the surveillance cameras! Brotha from another motha!

        Lots to be learned from this experience, and it’s certainly not a black and white issue with a black and white solution.

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