Apparently, Penn State fans and students are not the only people in Pennsylvania who get drunk and rowdy in large crowds. At last Saturday's Kenny Chesney concert at Heinz Field, police arrested or cited 73 people in and around Heinz Field, while an additional 43 underage drinking citations were issued during a sweep of the parking lots. Police also had to break up at least ten large fights, which will lead to assault charges. This seems like a lot of violence for a style of music, which does not exactly lead to mosh pits and slam dancing. A total of 45 people were hospitalized for injuries and/ or alcohol overdoses, which dwarfs the hospital transports to Beaver Stadium even for late kick-offs, even though we draw significantly more people for Penn State football games than Heinz Field draws for any event.
In addition to simple assault charges stemming from the fights, most of the other charges were summary offenses like public urination, disorderly conduct, public drunkenness and underage drinking. Summary offenses are the least serious crimes in Pennsylvania, carrying maximum penalties of 90 days in jail. The maximum fines for a first offense public drunkenness or underage drinking citation is $500, with second and subsequent offenses carrying maximum fines of $1,000.
But not all of the offenses were minor. There was also one robbery and one indecent assault. Robbery entails stealing the property of another, through the use of force, however slight. It would not surprise me if the robbery was not a classic mugging or purse snatching, but rather a theft, which grew out of a drunken brawl. Indecent assault entails unwanted contact by a defendant with an intimate part of the victim's body. My guess is that a highly intoxicated man probably groped a woman.
The concert goers reportedly completely trashed the Heinz Field parking lots, essentially turning the stadium facility into a giant garbage dump. From photos circulating on the internet, it appears that country music fans do not understand or care about the concept of recycling. You would never see such environmentally irresponsibility at a hippy jam band gathering!
The lesson we in Nittany Nation can take from the Kenny Chesney show mayhem is that the Beaver Stadium crowds really are not so bad after all. For years, I have noted that we Penn State fans are downright angelic compared to European soccer fans, and we never threw snow balls at Santa Clause, unlike fans in a certain other part of this Commonwealth. Now I can use an example a bit closer to home to make the same point.
Matt McClenahen is a Penn State alumnus and criminal defense attorney in State College, Pennsylvania. He even likes some country music, especially Johnny Cash.