While visiting the Twin Cities in the days leading up to Super Bowl LII, the overwhelming majority of Philadelphia Eagles fans seemed to behave themselves. But when victory came for the team and its fans, one decided to be remembered for taking home a unique souvenir.
That unnamed vandal was photographed and videotaped tearing a purple U.S. Bank Stadium chair off its hinges, barely covering it with a jacket on the way out of the stadium, and wheeling it around on his carry-on luggage on Monday at Minneapolis-St. Paul International Airport. Now safely out of town, he says he’ll pay for it.
The stunt paled in comparison to the knuckle-dragging behavior that raged postgame back in Philadelphia, where some of the seat-stealer’s soul mates decided to show their team spirit by smashing store window displays, tearing down traffic lights, crowding onto a hotel awning until it collapsed, scaling light posts (despite police covering them with waterproof hydraulic fluid), turning over concrete planters, setting small fires, fighting, looting a gas station and turning over a car.
And possibly taking inspiration from a drunken fan who punched a police horse after an Eagles victory over the Vikings on Jan. 21, one jersey-clad idiot appeared to celebrate by eating horse manure. Go figure.
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The more serious mayhem resulted in just eight arrests so far, according to Philadelphia officials, though more could be coming. It’s a remarkably light police response given the extent of the damage.
That got the Editorial Board wondering: Why is it that when crimes are committed as fans rally after a big game, the events are often characterized as “celebrations” and not “riots”? No wonder social media lit up this week with comments from social justice groups, including Black Lives Matter, decrying the obvious double standard in crowd control.
“[I]t seems there’s a line drawn in the sand where destruction of property because of a sports victory is OK and acceptable in America,” Hawk Newsom, national president of BLM, told Newsweek. “However, if you have people who are fighting for their most basic human right, the right to live, they will be condemned.”
Philadelphia Mayor Jim Kenney told reporters that every city that has had large-scale victory revelry has “some element” of people who act out, but that it was a small number in his streets on Sunday. That may be true, but the majority of protesters in social justice demonstrations obey the law, too. So why the markedly different levels of response? No one is above the law, as this board has pointed out when demonstrations have turned ugly in the Twin Cities.
But Newsom makes a valid point — one that law enforcement officials and city leaders should keep in mind the next time they respond to a protest — or a celebration.