I’m a parent of a UC Student, and I find it totally reprehensible to see the blatant provocation of the Santa Barbara Sheriffs for their role in instigating the riots in I.V. First, they banned Floatopia — a peaceful, fun loving, float-oriented day at the beach — ostensibly because there was too much drinking and partying. Hey, can we say Spring break? This was a patently ridiculous move by the Sheriff’s office. This after all, was a celebration that had a tradition for over a decade and it was recently nixed four years ago. The apparent reason offered was there was too much “pollution.” If the 25,000 attendees drove to another venue to celebrate, the “pollution” levels would be geometrically higher. The real pollution is in the minds of those who enacted the ban: political grinches, using the Sheriffs as their enforcers.
Seriously, who in their right mind would have come up with the idea that students can’t have a joyful beach party once a year? Can the person taking credit, please raise their hand? Apparently, there are cruel, vengeful, spiteful people who apparently have never had a childhood or dreamt a dream.
Devastated, the students fashioned a creative and fun alternative — they took their energy and collective need for partying to Deltopia; a land locked street party in I.V. This event, now in its third year, was a creative alternative to Floatopia and an answer to the fascistic, no-beach-partying dictum. Tens of thousands of folks from outside the area planned to attend, along with the tens of thousands of Santa Barbara students, but unfortunately, that was “unacceptable.” The Sheriff sent out emails and texts to students a week before the event: “no music permitted.” Thereby essentially banning that event. WTF? The Sheriff’s department clearly has too much time on their hands, or an alternative and more sinister motive. I think it was the latter.
Are they kidding? Is this the Kremlin? Have they forgotten that UCSB is the bread and butter, both a major economic engine and cultural institution of the county? I understand passing royal edicts and banning popular events may be popular with some power-mad political classes, but really banning Deltopia? Particularly after banning Floatopia, this is too much to countenance. This is the tail wagging the dog. Someone needs to sue the Sheriffs and the county so they can get the message — lighten up and let the students have their Floatopia back.
It gets worse. What was unknown is that Sheriff’s office had both planned and instigated a riot. According to multiple student reports, at the start of Deltopia, the Sheriffs were literally going house to house in I.V., confiscating speakers and amplifiers being played in homes and adding insult to injury — citing the students for playing the music! The students and their guests poured out to the street angrily. Who wouldn’t? When was the last time storm troopers acted so heavy handed in I.V. and in your own home no less?
The Sheriffs knew their actions would elicit push-back and I’m now thinking that that with the increasing militarization of our nation’s police forces (the Department of Homeland Security has been subsidizing local police departments with crowd control gear) the Sheriffs were itching for a fight and wishing to try out all their swat gear and crowd control equipment, and they did. No stone was left unturned, they beat and tear gassed student, conducted mass arrests, etc.
How many readers believe a riot would have ensued without the heavy-handed, bullying intervention of the Sheriff’s department? If the Sheriff’s department would have been mere casual observers of Deltopia, as they had been in the past two years? If they had, no riot would have ensued. Without the aggressive, confrontational and militarized Sheriff’s tactics, which unleashed every tactical tool in their toolbox — including calling in all local police departments for a larger show of force — Deltopia would have a simple, sun-filled, spring day of partying in I.V.
The solution? Bring Floatopia back and restore peace to the world.
Adam Sparks is a parent of a UC student.