The Mifflin Street Party in Madison has always been a beer-soaked and too often dangerous event. We still have memories from 2011 where the annual event resulted in two stabbings, three sexual assaults, and three police officers being injured. This year, in addition to the usual concerns there was also a pandemic that needed to be front and center for the city.
But as the Wisconsin State Journal photo from Andy Manis shows from last Saturday the only ones who seemed to be wary of the COVID virus were the medical professionals who urged caution. There is not a single mask to be seen among the drinking crowd. Or are to assume the party revelers had their two vaccination shots?
The drinking party that has been a yearly spectacle for this city, and a continuing embarrassment, must come to an end. Clearly, there is no other reason for the crowd to assemble than to booze it up, create refuse, fill detox centers, needlessly cause city resources to be used, and create bedlam.
The event started in 1969 as a way to protest the Vietnam War, but today the crowds that descend on Mifflin Street could not explain the reason the event started, or what great social reason draws them together now. If they did try to give words to the reason they attended it would only come out embarrassingly slurred.
Madison needs to come to grips with the fact the ONLY reason the Mifflin Street Party takes place is so a large and often unruly group can abuse alcohol. It seems the organizers have no desire to see the event be anything other than what we witnessed this past weekend.
In years past we have heard the president of Madison’s police union questioning why city officials allow the party to go on at all. With more damage this past weekend to personal property that question must again be pressed. In one case a car’s windshield was smashed by a young man kicking it, along with the roof and hood being dented from drunk people standing on it.
This type of behavior has been going on far too long. Promises had been made by Mayor Paul Soglin and others to shut the embarrassing party down. This party is an annual stain not only on the city but also on the University of Wisconsin-Madison. This party is not the image the UW wants to be associated with, and I can clearly state it is not one the citizenry of Madison wants to be attached to either.
Someone has to police the event. Equally important someone has to pay for the policing. That is where the taxpayers come into the picture, and there are many who are not pleased. But lucky for the taxpayers of Madison, as we still get to pay the bill for the poor decisions made by those who were elected to be our leaders.
Most city residents are not opposed to college students and young adults having a fun time. But the block party over and over has demonstrated to be nothing more than a reason to drink to vomiting excess. The consequences of this party are that drinking is the prime event, violence occurs, and taxpayers get soaked.
And this we get to see a virus spread, too!