Ever since August of 2016, I have called Spruce Street my home. The big house at the tippy top of the street has always been my safe heaven, and the rooms held the seven girls who I get to call my best friends. I still remember the very day I moved into this house, with a clear image of my mom in tears trying to get the moving truck up my mountain of a street and into the driveway.
Anyone who attends or has attended West Virginia University knows that Spruce is one of the most popular "off-campus" streets, due to its amazing location to either all campus buildings or downtown nightlife.
As a second semester freshman, back in 2016, I distinctly remember my first official snow day here at West Virginia University ("The Snow Day of 2016"). It was filled with endless amounts of people, sledding, snowboarding, and skiing down one of the very biggest hills in Morgantown- Spruce Street. This snow day was probably one of my favorite and most distinct memories of the beginning of my journey here at the University. And little did I know that two years later, I'd be calling the location of this epic event "home". I remember this day so distinctly in my mind and I remember having this constant thought that the WVU atmosphere was so amazing. I loved being apart of such a friendly and fun community.
Over the past four years as a West Virginia University student, there has only been one official snow day, which resulted in the the "Snow Day of 2016". Ever since, students have been patiently waiting for the opportunity to have a redo of what was done back in 2016. And come February 1, 2019, we were able to do just that.
I remember waking up to a handful of texts from my friends talking about all of the snow we had gotten the night before. Confused, I sat up and opened my curtains to see the town of Morgantown covered in at least three inches of snow. Not even an our later, I received the automated text from the University informing us students that for the third day in a row, class would be canceled.
Throughout the morning, my roommates and I all decided that we'd probably spend the rest of our day enjoying our time off at the neighbors house. Yet, as the morning went on, I started receiving more and more text messages asking if I was going to be home and that "everyone is coming to Spruce".
Quickly, I got dressed and headed down to our neighbors. The second I walked out of my front door, I realized it was going to be just like that 2016 day all over again. Students started gathering together at the top of the hill, and we watched as many of them either sledded or snowboarded their way down.
As the day progressed, more and more West Virginia University students started to gather on the street. Every couple of minutes, I would turn around to see another friend bundled up and headed down the street to find their friends. Everyone had huge smilies across their faces and the houses began to bring out speakers to their porches. Soon the entire street was fulled with upbeat music and students.
The next thing I know, the entire street was a huge cloud of gray smoke and there were screams from all over the street. People started sprinting into houses, many of them being locked out by the individuals who lived there. Teargas covered the entire street, and many students had multiple bruises across their bodies from rubber bullets. Being that the street consists of run down, older style homes, most of the windows of these houses are not properly sealed, leaving just about everyone with on or in a house on Spruce Street affected by the tear gas. I was in complete and utter shock about what had just occurred.
Within minutes there was already multiple news reports and articles that had surfaced about the "2019 Riot on Spruce Street".
"Riot?" I kept thinking totally confused. What I had experienced seemed absolutely nothing like a riot.
After reading many articles and viewing several new reports, I then had a better understanding of the situation. Being the daughter of a police officer, I always tend to have an endless amount of love and respect for authority and greatly appreciate all that they do to ensure the community's safety. I was completely appalled that certain individuals would do things such as throw beer cans, or even rocks at the officers. However, I did not and do not think that chemical weapons and rubber bullets were necessary remotely.
Over the duration of the day, I personally did not hear a single siren, announcement over a police car speaker, or was given any type of instruction to leave the vicinity. If authority believed that such extreme force was necessary, I would hope to trust their judgment. However, other forms of dispersal methods could have definitely been used more effectively before hand.
In the end, my stance on this issue remains unclear. I am typically the first person to understand why certain things would be done in specific situations, but being that I experienced this event first-hand, I am truly confused and bothered by the events that happened this past Friday.