Riot squads

By CHRIS FARAONE  |  June 28, 2010

Though authorities keep their preparation tactics close to the vest, during this year's NBA Finals, Boston certainly appeared to be prepared around Kenmore Square, the TD Garden, and Faneuil Hall hot zones. The Department of Transportation towed cars to clear streets; strategic barricades were erected in potential problem pockets; newspaper boxes were moved so that celebratory shot-putters could not smash them through shop windows. Indeed, as the Celtics went into battle, experts familiar with BPD tactics claimed that Boston was better equipped than ever before to restrain rogue meatheads and troublemakers. "Going back to 2004," says Gillis, "while the police put up their best efforts, it was clearly not sufficient. But from what I saw [last] week, the police department has learned their lesson, and people here are better off for it."

Some critics charge that authorities were slow to learn from the Snelgrove debacle, while others complain that the city still needs to work closer with colleges and universities. In 2008, the police waited until just days before the American League Division Series to distribute cautionary pamphlets to Boston's quarter-million college students (most of which, according to two employees at separate schools, went unseen.) It's impossible to know how this year's outcome would've been different had the Celtics won. But the end result is unassailable: while patrons around Boston showed that we can all get along (and refrain from toasting Molotov cocktails and torching Jack Nicholson voodoo dolls in effigy), riot-prone Lakers fans burned cars and trees to the curb and assaulted patrolmen outside of the Staples Center.

"There's always a chance that one person in one pocket of the city will throw a beer bottle up and break it, and a bunch of people will cheer and start engaging in one-upping behavior," says End. "But considering the number of times that Boston has been put to the test, it definitely bodes well that the people there haven't historically celebrated in violent ways."

Chris Faraone can be reached at cfaraone@phx.com. His rookie-fan memoir, How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love the Sox, drops next baseball season.

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