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November 5, 1998

Capuano wins; supporters riot
In a celebration turned ugly, drunken liberals engage in ‘8th District Hooliganism’

SOMERVILLE — Supporters of former mayor Mike Capuano took to the streets Tuesday night to celebrate Capuano’s victory in the 8th District Congressional election. The drunken Democrats, many dressed in Capuano T-shirts and others completely naked with the exception of carefully placed "Capuano for Congress" bumper stickers, were at first simply engaging in a peaceful outdoor celebration. capuano.jpg (26730 bytes)

But what began as a spontaneous outpouring of regional pride quickly deteriorated into a melee of violence and looting that could only be described as 8th District Hooliganism.

At an office park on Broadway, looters ransacked the offices of an HMO, leaving other nearby offices unscathed. A triple-decker on Washington Street was burned to the ground and affordable low-income housing built up rapidly in its place. Hundreds of rioters broke into an elementary school near Davis Square and outfitted each classroom with top-of-the-line Macintosh computers.

Dino Allerenti looked on helplessly as his restaurant, Dino’s Pizza, was gutted by rioters.

"I’ve never seen anything like it," said Allerenti. "Before they threw a trash can through one of my plate-glass windows, they separated out the recyclables into a separate bin. Then they threw the recycling bin through my other plate-glass window. It makes me feel good about the people in our district — they want to protect the environment, and so does the guy we’re sending to Congress."

As the evening stretched on, the riot transformed into a ‘60s-styled, free-for-all love-in and afterward became more like a parade that stretched from Winter Hill to Union Square before it turned into a riot again. Somerville police were called to the scene, but by the time they arrived the riot had morphed into an on-location shoot for a new Van Halen video. The riot re-ensued once the police departed.

"It’s very frustrating to deal with these ‘smart riots,’" said Somerville police deputy Jeremy Feinstein. "Every time we left the station to break up these rioters, they would shift gears and suddenly start holding a beauty pageant, or an auction, or a boxing match. None of these activities are illegal, so we were helpless to stop them."

"On the plus side," said Feinstein, "I got Michael Anthony’s autograph."

Reaction to the riot has been mixed among the different communities across the District. Constituents from Brookline were quoted as being "shocked" and "ashamed" and "predominantly Jewish" over the riots. In contrast, Brighton resident and Boston College student Theresa McCann said that she is "not at all Jewish."

"I think there could be more here — either expanding on the Jewish joke, or more jokes about neighborhoods in the 8th."

Mr. Capuano released a statement requesting that the rioters "stop this craziness and start working for a better tomorrow." Off the record, however, Mr. Capuano said that he is "stoked" to see that so many voters "bought my bullshit," and that it makes him feel "fuckin’ great" to see that people are so into him that they’d get drunk and trash their own neighborhood.

"It’s like being Michael Jordan," Capuano said, "but without the sweat."

But those statements were all off the record. Please don’t tell anyone that we printed them.

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