April 27 was starting to turn out like a night just like any other during the school year. However, this evening I found out about a block party going on in town and decided to check it out. When I arrived, I found a number of police cars and officers already at the house it was registered at. My date and I started taking pictures of how trashed the street was, and I decided to ask one of the officers what had happened.
He filled me in that there had been more than 800 people at a party that had gotten broken up at the request of one of the local residents. Having heard this, the first thing that came to mind was the Rams Pointe Pool Party from a few years ago.
Once the police left, it only took about 15 minutes for party goers to show up and they were coming in groups of 20 to 50 people at a time. As the music started to play, I quickly began to realize just how many people were here and decided to start taking pictures. This block party got out of hand very quickly with people on cars, climbing houses and lighting fireworks in the crowd. Common sense kicked in here and I just knew the police were going to show back up at this party.
The first thing I did after getting to the edge of the crowd was to text one of the news editors of the Collegian and let him know about this party so he could send a reporter to cover it. I also sent him some of my pictures to let him know just how large it was getting. I then stayed long enough to watch the crowd become hostile towards the police by throwing bottles, rocks and other objects at officers.
That night I didn’t sleep as I was deeply bothered by what I saw. At about 4 a.m. the next morning I got up and started reading an article from the Coloradoan titled “Fort Collins Police, CSU officials seek instigators of party riot.” After reading this article, I decided that I needed to do something to help out. Having been in the Marines, this seemed like an obvious decision to me so I decided to answer the call and contacted the Fort Collins police, then gave them a statement about what I witnessed.
Looking back on this now after having actually gone through some media ethics training, I would not have made the same decision. However, at the time this just seemed like the right thing to do and I’ve always tried to do the right thing in my life, some times less successful than others.
I made a point after speaking with the police to not get involved with the story anymore as a reporter because I didn’t want there to be any misunderstanding.
I still strongly believe that with my knowledge at the time as a mechanical engineering student just transferring into journalism, I made the right decision. I believe that we are all held to a higher standard and that we should hold ourselves to that even if it means making an unpopular decision or helping the police find who started a riot. Doing the right thing is always the right thing.
Editor in Chief Darin Hinman can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.