Original URL: http://www.theregister.co.uk/2005/08/18/ibook_rio_witness/

US iBook riot: a survivor's story

Eyewitness account of laptop stampede

By Lester Haines

Posted in Letters, 18th August 2005 07:55 GMT

Our piece yesterday on the shocking iBook riot in Richmond, Virginia, which saw grown adults storming a $50 laptop sale like Somalis at an aid truck shocked and dismayed many readers.

And with good reason. Here's an eyewitness account of what is now known as "The Richmond International Raceway Apple Stampede", courtesy of Susan Lawson:

I am from Richmond, Virginia and I was one of the early birds having gotten into line for the iBook sale about 4:15’ish. I was about 150th in line. There were 2 police officers there.

A camaraderie formed with the “group” as the minutes ticked by, we joked, sang, played music and attempted to start the “wave” on a few occasions. Things went great until people started arriving around dawn. People attempted to cut into line or not get in line at all. When you get to know your neighbor and have been waiting, this started ticking people off. Many in our group were telling them to “get to the back of the line!” As the minutes went by more and more people came (total estimates of all individuals there were actually about 5 - 6,000) and didn’t want to get to the back of the line.

The police attempted to control them and tell them they had to get in line but they ignored them – there were only 5 police officers when the gates opened. When the gates opened at 7:00, all of the people that were not in line started to rush the gates. If you were there, you saw it and could see that once the people that weren’t in line started rushing the gates, the people that were in line started running too as they had been in line for hours. I saw the scene and said “this isn’t worth it!” I left.

I got a call a few minutes later on my cell phone from my friend Shirley asking me where I was. She said she had been shoved to the ground, lost her shoes, had no skin on her knees, was at the bottom of a pile at one point, but got back up and kept going. (I found out later in the day that she did in fact get an iBook.) At some point after the crowd reached the building, she told me that tickets were handed out. I am absolutely amazed that they didn’t have the foresight to hand these tickets out to those of us in line as the line formed. Had they done that, a lot of what happened could have been avoided. They could have been told that the tickets were gone and to go home.

This morning watching the news I saw that some were already on eBay and fetching $285+. Amazing. I have to say that I question the intelligence of not only the Henrico Board, but the Henrico Police Department. To say that “they didn’t expect that many people,” to me is dumbfounding. Just think – had the general public been able to participate this would have been even worse. I’m just amazed. What morons did we vote in that are supposed to be educating and setting the example to our children? Amazingly stupid apparently! However we all looked a bit ridiculous ourselves - mob mentality.

Shocking stuff indeed. We'll restrict comment to one further letter:

Hi,

Y'all wrote " the complete breakdown of law and order across the Pond."

Sorry, that's not correct. It wasn't a complete breakdown. It's like that here most of the time.

Regards,

Jerry Adamson

We fear for democracy, we really do. ®