There was an air of violence at the St. Jude Sweet Corn Festival Saturday night in Cedar Rapids. Just after 10 pm witnesses report that tension between rival gangs, composed of teenagers, had increased to a point that a fight was inevitable.
What happened next was described as a nightmare and pure chaos by those at the scene. The event attracted mass hordes of teenagers, some claiming to be from Black Lives Matter, loitering about, bickering with rival gangs and threatening violence.
“There was a group of girls loudly boasting their tougher friends were on their way. We didn’t want to get hurt,” a witness told the Defender.
Rumors of a gun being flashed just before the riot are unconfirmed at the time of this writing.
“There was a kid running around saying there was a gun, but I never actually saw or heard one. I’m glad they shut in down because it was going to get much worse,” the witness said.
With this being the third year in a row the Sweet Corn Festival has been disrupted by violence, the CRPD remains on high alert. There were officers on the scene prior to the riot along with private security guards dressed in red. Witnesses say they both were hovering around the beer tent much of the evening.
A police officer attempting to detain a teenage youth, was subsequently ambushed by dozens of kids, who kicked and stomped, beating him on the ground. The officer who was assaulted, luckily, suffered only minor injuries. Police announced they had detained six juveniles on charges of disorderly conduct and assault on a peace officer.
About 150 teenagers were seen running towards the fighting as the police fought back against the mob. The teens had been a disturbance all night as there are reports of racial motivated assaults and items being thrown at police. The words “Black Lives Matter” came across the CR police scanner according to our overnight crime reporter.
One innocent victim was elbowed, stepped on and kicked during the stampede.
The gang violence at the Sweet Corn Festival mirrors what we saw happen at Hog Wild Days, before escalating violence got the event shut down permanently. The incident highlights a growing perception that “youths from Chicago” can be blamed for problems in this city. As Chicago imports ourselves, the Defender must point out that this exact same talking point “People from Chicago are to blame” was common back in 1994, the first year we landed in CR.
Not all people from Chicago are bad. Not all people from CR are good. We must work together to stop the spread of violence at our once peaceful events. Perhaps beefed up security, an age limit and metal detectors would present an alternative solution.
What we’re doing now isn’t working.
St. Jude posted this message to those longing for the good ol’ days…when the festival was safe:
“I want everyone to know that the festival will be open tomorrow from 12-7. The incidents that happened tonight to cause us to shut down the festival was basicly a lot of teenagers on our midway who do not know how to behave themselves. It was in the best interest of the festival and everyone in attendance to close early. We are so sorry if this ruined your night. We are very thankful to all law enforcement for taking swift action. We hope you will join us tomorrow to celebrate the rest of our sweet corn festival. Signing off for now–good night.”