The Madison Police Department released a statement last week that, in short, said the Mifflin Street Block Party is no longer a city sanctioned event, which only proves the MPD lacks confidence in Revelry as an alternative to the block party. Their statement is an insult to the people who have worked so hard on planning Revelry as well as the artists performing there.
I think having an end-of-the-year concert is a really cool idea. And to be quite frank, whoever is doing Revelry’s social media and publicity work is brilliant—they’ve handled this MPD situation and all the general criticisms from the student body with grace and eloquence. Perhaps it wasn’t the best idea to have the event on the same day as Mifflin (although that was likely the only option put forward by UW-Madison administration), but I was personally looking forward to attending both Mifflin and Revelry on May 4. Now it appears Mifflin will be a disaster zone on that day, especially now that the street won’t be closed off. I’m hesitant to linger in that area for too long—not because of the recent intimidation from the MPD, but because I don’t want to actually endanger myself.
Obviously, from the perspective of the MPD and UW administration, effectively eliminating Mifflin would simplify their lives. I get it. However, doing it in this way is not conducive to student safety or reducing costs—two of the main arguments for the ongoing debate over the status of the block party.
Alcohol will always play a role in this day, whether it’s on Mifflin, Regent, Randall, Langdon, Spring, Breese, Dayton, State or Lathrop streets. And hey, a lot of these people are going to binge drink. Also, this statement from the MPD will not keep people from outside the city from coming into Madison on May 4. Short of micromanaging every single person in the entire city and disallowing tourism, you aren’t going to stop either of these things.
Am I being overly critical? No, because this decision will not only be ineffective, but is actually a more dangerous proposal. The only way it could be effective is if the MPD employ a massive police force to patrol the entire city May 4, since there will be no center of activity for the drunkenness this year. And even if this were economically feasible, it’s not something that any of us should want for this city.
In 2011, two people were stabbed at the Mifflin event. This is absolutely not acceptable. However, I think it’s important to reflect on what made the 2011 block party different from those before it.
Two years ago, the city decided for the first time to allow open intoxicants in the street for anyone with a wristband and gave the go-ahead for live music to be brought in to perform at the event.
So let us rehash here: It was the city that decided to allow people to drink in the street two years ago and host a slew of musical acts at the block party. And that year, it just so happened that things got out of control. A mere shred of common sense could have detected what made that an awful plan, as it only allowed for out-of-towners (who, with this stipulation, didn’t even need to know anyone in Madison), to run rampant in our streets. With such an illogical policy in place, it’s a miracle nobody died that year due to the city’s incalculable lack of foresight.
Yet, what we never got was an acknowledgement from the city that their implemented policy may have been the cause of the issues at the 2011 Mifflin. Instead, after the block party was changed so it became an event that was designed to fail, it was deemed the partiers’ fault things went south. It’s apparently your fault the city imposed an idiotic policy that encouraged unwanted people to come in and wreak havoc. The city seems quite content with taking the effects of poor management in regard to the Mifflin Street Block Party and making it the cause for its discontinuation. And you will be blamed again this year when the epicenter of debauchery that has been Mifflin Street in past years is expanded across the entire campus area, creating a scenario that most definitely has the potential to result in tragedy.
Now the city apparently believes Revelry is the answer to the dissolution of Mifflin. Because a concert isn’t a place where people get drunk, right? Well no, that’s absolutely incorrect. But in addition to excessive drinking, concerts are breeding grounds for the consumption and selling of a plethora of other completely illegal substances. Will this happen at Revelry—who’s to say? But I think it’s beyond naïve to assume that just because the creators of the festival have good intentions means that everyone who attends it will as well.
What truly shocks me is that those in charge of this decision didn’t give Revelry and Mifflin a chance to exist side-by-side as city sanctioned events for even one year. The crowds interested in attending each respective event don’t necessarily overlap—Revelry boasts fantastic musical acts, but they aren’t the mega-headlining performers that many UW students expected from the event. Due to this, it’s unreasonable for students to attend an event in which they have no interest. Moreover, no matter how you put it, Mifflin is a tradition and Revelry is not. And although there were some aspects to the Mifflin tradition that certainly needed to be addressed, canceling it was not the answer. If the Fourth will be with us, or against—see we shall.
What do you think of the city’s attempts to shut down Mifflin? Please send all feedback to email@example.com.