Strike down the band! The Eastman Eight

Two days ago an incident occurred here in Rochester, New York, that makes me wonder, “Who is in charge, anyway, and to what intelligence or moral parameters are they held accountable?”

First, the community leaders are perennially looking for ways to keep college students in Rochester, once they’ve graduated, rather than return whence they came – places like Omaha and Long Island – or go where the quality of living is peceived to be better. Community leaders are also trying to promote Downtown – versus the suburbs – as a good place to work and live. Add the fact that Tuesday the most important presidential election occurred since Lincoln’s divided the nation. On behalf of the majority of Americans who voted for Obama, this was perceived as worthy of celebration.

Following Obama’s victory, a group of Eastman School of Music students played their instruments in the streets of Downtown Rochester. Yes, it was after midnight and, yes, they were asked to stop, but persisted. So they were arrested. Let me clarify: students living and attending college in Downtown Rochester – virtually the only ones living downtown – celebrated a presidential victory in a harmless fashion, and were busted. (When I was college-age I, along with one million others, descended one spring on the city of New Orleans for twelve days of drunken revelry – Mardi Gras. We were welcomed with open arms by the city fathers)

To exercise such a response toward people who are focused musicians, who have paid a small fortune to attend college in our town, who are tomorrow’s teachers and leaders – who are the absolute model of what this city would want for its citizenship, has no logical basis.

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3 Comments on “Strike down the band! The Eastman Eight”

  1. Thelma Bradt Says:

    Rich, this blog was so beautifully written and right to the point. I could not agree with you more about this. The law these kids supposedly broke, was stated something as “gathering to cause harm to others” or some such thing. That was way overboard. If they did anything wrong it was to breach the noise levels allowed. The people who complained should live here in Des Moines in the summer, where, each Saturday evening, bands are playing until late at night, and bars have outdoor entertainment blasting music at all hours. We always call to ask that the “music” end sooner than 1:00am, but nothing is ever done about it.

    Do you believe as I do, that it has more to do with politics than noise? I know Rochester is a Republican city, and perhaps these complainers were infuriated with kids celebrating the election of a black Democrat. Just a thought.

    Thanks for your thoughtful insights concerning this.


  2. Joseph Belle-Isle Says:

    What if they were playing DIXIE or CAMPTOWN RACES outside DICKS 43 CLUB?

  3. Jen Says:

    Great article. Who were the my old hometown idiots that decided this was a bright move. More and more downtowns are coming alive again with the vitality of young workers who look toward community, entertainment and amentiies as a reason to be there. I’m sorry I missed the pre-bust concert. Make music!

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