Military Matters: Angry West Point Cadets "Riot" After Drug Search 5/5/06

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Cadets at the US Military Academy at West Point, New York, went on a rampage last week in response to an unannounced drug dog search of their quarters, according to records obtained by the Orange County Times Herald-Record. At least a thousand cadets set off fireworks and threw garbage from their barracks to protest the early morning search, a West Point incident report said.

 
West Point cadets
"Hundreds of cadets were hollering obscenities out of their windows and some were throwing objects," wrote an unidentified military officer in the report, which called the incident "a riot." "A team-size element of firemen responded to the scene as cadets were throwing objects that were on fire out of the windows in Bradley Barracks," the summary continued. "It was a shameful, pitiful day for West Point."

The outburst came the evening after cadets awoke to a 6:00am fire drill, where they were instructed to leave the barracks. While the cadets were still out of the barracks, military and local police aided by teams of drug-sniffing dogs entered and searching the living quarters of some 4,000 future Army officers. No drugs were found.

West Point spokesman Lt. Col. Kent Cassella told the Times Herald-Record the event was no big deal. He said no one was injured and no serious damage occurred. "It sounded like the cadets were blowing off a little steam," Cassella said. "Basically, there were some cadets voicing their frustrations, and there were some firecrackers going off. But in the end, there was nothing more than that."

About 10:30pm, cadets began yelling and throwing items into the courtyard. The melee lasted for about an hour before cadets and officers began cleaning up the courtyard.

The anonymous army officer who wrote the incident report was appalled. "About 2,000 cadets were involved and witness to this travesty," the report read. Officers on duty "could not believe what they were witnessing!"

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Issue #434 -- 5/5/06

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