The VEISHEA festival in Iowa came to a grinding halt Tuesday night with the introduction of riots into the celebration. Rioters began to flip cars and knocking down light poles, instigating a police response. When cops showed up on scene, the riot took an even uglier turn. The crowd turned on authorities, pelting them with rocks, bottles and cans.
One of the light poles that were downed fell on a student in the crowd. Police Commander Geoff Huff believes that the man was not involved in bringing down the pole. According to the commander, his position wouldn’t have allowed for it.
Authorities had to push through the riot in order to get to the patient. “It was pretty chaotic,” Huff said. “I was in the group that went in to get him, and we did have to push people out of the way to find out where he was. It was difficult.” He was taken to Des Moines hospital and is stable, but in the ICU. His name was not released to the public.
Witnesses say that the VEISHEA riot seemed to have a crowd of over 1000 people. Huff insisted, “There were thousands of people. They weren’t as destructive as they were 10 years ago, but still, for a Tuesday night, it’s kind of a black eye.” He seems to insinuate that it would have been more expected during the weekend.
VEISHEA is supposed to be a showcase for Iowa State University, featuring entertainment and educational events. VEISHEA is an acronym that stands for: veterinary medicine, engineering, industrial, science, home, economics, agriculture. The celebration was founded in 1922, but has had a lot of trouble since then. Starting in 1988 there has been a riot in several different years of varying intensities. These riots have caused significant property damages, personal injury and, in at least one instance, death.
Iowa State University President Steven Leath announced, early Wednesday, that he would be cancelling the rest of VEISHEA this year and that he was going to gather a task force to decide if the tradition should be cancelled permanently.
The VEISHEA riot of 2014 may be the last riot in a long history for the celebration. Leath seems to be pushing toward an end to the celebration, “…unfortunately, the true purpose of VEISHEA has been overshadowed by too many acts of this nature, which jeopardizes the safety of our students and really the entire Ames community.”