Morning Wood: Thousands gather to celebrate birthdays of local elderly

By Morning Wood Staff


Early Monday night, nearly 3,000 students gathered in the Southwest concourse for an impromptu birthday party before being forced to disperse by UMPD.

The gathering was instigated by local seniors Ethel Abrams, 86, Mortimer Calhoun, 88, Charles Devito, 75, Lucille Hawthorne, 90 and Helen Macdonald, 82. The seniors, driven into depression by their empty nests and lack of family in the area to celebrate their birthdays with, kick-started the gathering by shouting profanities until a crowd began to gather. Mob mentality took over from there.

Students surrounded the seniors and chanted “USA! USA!” while waving American flags and starting small fires. Damages include the removal of a tree and toilet paper strewn about the concourse.

“That tree was like a big birthday candle,” said Hawthorne. “I haven’t had that much fun since V-Day.”

A portion of the crowd seemed to be unaware of the origins of the gathering and could be heard asking each other what to chant and murmuring how excited they were for another riot.

“It isn’t a riot, man. We’re just having fun,” said junior kinesiology major Sarah McKee before lighting a large blunt.

Police clad in riot gear arrived shortly before 11 p.m. brandishing pepperball guns and batons.

Devito could be seen attempting to crowd surf even as the police approached on horseback.

“F*** the police!” Calhoun screamed as he was put in handcuffs. “Hitler couldn’t stop me and neither can you!”

Eighty-two arrests were made including three of the seniors. Devito was charged with aggravated assault for lashing out at a police officer, while Calhoun was booked for indecent exposure.

“I’m just lonely,” said Macdonald. “Can you bring me home?”

Even as pepperballs flew into the crowd and batons could be heard slapping flesh, some attendants refused to disperse. A chant of “This is for Blarney!” could be heard intermittently as bottles pelted police officers.

“No matter the age of the attendants, these kinds of gatherings are unacceptable,” wrote Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy in an email sent out Tuesday morning.

A rally has been organized by students to protest police brutality at the event.

“I just wish my grandchildren would call me,” said Abrams when asked what her motives were. “Grandma wants to get a little wild sometimes too.”

Dick Butt can be reached when Jupiter aligns with Mars.