April 30, 1981

NCAA Riot.

President Reagan had been shot by John Hinckley earlier that day. Melanie and I were just settling down to go to sleep when distant clamour and screams and car honking announced that Indiana University had won the NCAA Championship. We jumped out of our beds to await the anticipated riot and hoopla.

Police blocked off Walnut Street and stood directing traffic at the corner in front of the Allen Building. Within 30 minutes after the game ended, thousands of people had marched or driven from the dormitories and frat houses, waving banners, chanting “I.U.! I.U.! I.U.!” honking their horns, screaming, and carrrying on. It was the closest thing to a riot I have ever seen, the only difference being that these people were breaking glass and pulling up parking meters and smashing windows from joy, not from rage. Melanie and I hung out of the bay window in our nighties, pleased as punch with the spectacle. It went on and on. The Cigs passed by underneath and we leaned out the window and screamed and hollered wordlessly, mocking the crowd. The Cigs screamed back, and threw themselves into the revels with great spirit.

Frank Reiter saw us in the window and came up to enjoy an elevated and safer vantage point, as did Paul and Esther Smedberg. Paul leaned out our window and screamed “Repent ye sinners! for tomorrow ye die! Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is nigh!” People in the street laughed and pointed, and I chimed in, “Hallelujah! Praise God!” with my bathrobe nearly falling off my naked body. Melanie and I screamed down at the crowd “Sex!” “Bloodshed!” “Burn cars!” and “Hallelujah!” according to our whims at the moment. Chessley saw us and came up to admire the view and to give me a kiss. The Cigs came and stood with Bill Weaver, Donna Fay, and Chuck and Katrina, just below our window in front of the Allen Building. Gordon dragged a metal trash can out into the street to obstruct traffic, and took a paper airplane I had flown down and set fire to it, and dripped it in the trash can, which caught on fire. People down the street somehow uncapped a fire hydrant and water spurted all over the street. Cars and vans drove past with as many as 15 or 20 people clinging to the roofs, waving IU posters and cheering. It was sheer insanity and we loved it. Jackie Oddi in the apartment below us blasted out “Anarchy in the U.K.” from her windows. Donna Fay hurled lightbulbs into the street to shatter. It was a monumental spectacle. The din grew more and more violent as time went on, and eventually the predominant noises were not of “I.U.!” being chanted, but of things breaking in the street.

I learned from Michael Gitlin afterward that during the height of the spree, an IDS reporter had come up to them and asked them what they thought of IU winning the game, for a news story. They replied they knew nothing of any game, they were celebrating Reagan’s shooting. We also heard that Bill D. took off all his clothes and ran up and down Kirkwood stark naked. People broke into the furniture store across the street from the Uptown and were bouncing on the sofas and flashing the lights on and off. Roxanne, Kirk, and Daniel Ross stood guard in front of the Uptown all night, guarding the window, but other people got up n the roof and hurled bottles from the heights with reckless enthusiasm. What an orgy! I was quite pleased with it all. I had never seen so many happy people.

RSS for Posts RSS for Comments