Louisville, Kentucky Metro Police have determined the identity of the person who started the threat of a real life “Purge” that was supposed to happen beginning Friday, August 15 at 8:00 p.m. but never materialized. The instigator of the fear and panic that some Kentucky residents experienced is a clearly misguided teenager who created a cheesy poster and took to social media to spread anxiety and concern for authorities as well as a sick purge-thrill to those who thought the idea not just novel, but plausible. Disturbing images and text circulated on Twitter showing weaponry and indicating both excitement and anticipation for the start of what was intended to be an overnight, lawless violence-fest.
The original 2013 The Purge is a horror flick starring Ethan Hawke and Lena Headey in which for one 12-hour period a year society becomes lawless and authorities turn a blind eye to all crime. The sequel, The Purge: Anarchy was released in July of this year and both flicks can be considered typical middle of the road summer film fodder. Both flicks have a Motion Picture Rating of “R” for strong disturbing violence and gore, sex and nudity, profanity, alcohol, drugs and smoking, and frightening and intense scenes.
Although The Purge and the sequel are no more or less violent or disturbing than a slew of recent movies, the thought of a potential real life purge event of any magnitude was enough to cause residents in Louisville and even event planners in the area considerable concern. Some high schools canceled their Friday night athletic events, fans of bands scheduled to perform in the area worried that the objects of their fandom would be in danger and people were tuned in to police scanners waiting for any hint of potential violence.
As the threat of a real life purge gained momentum via social media, by necessity, authorities took the threat seriously increasing police patrols and security camera surveillance. Louisville Police Sgt. Phil Russell stated that experience with flash mob violence that has been witnessed nationally has made it clear that “these things can occur in an instance.” In addition, the Kentucky State Fair is this weekend, which has caused increased security concerns.
Although the real life purge timetable of 8 p.m. August 15 to 6:30 a.m., August 16 has come and gone without a significant rise in violence, authorities did take the threat seriously and are continuing to monitor the situation in the event that it continues to fester. In other locations, such as Jacksonville, Kansas City, Detroit, Miami and Cleveland where copycat rumors of a real life purge began to gain steam, authorities are also monitoring for any evidence that might indicate a trend towards actual purge-like behavior.
According to current reports, the teenager who started the threat of a real life purge in Louisville, Kentucky has not been charged. It appears that he told the local Iroquois High School newspaper in an interview that he was the instigator of the “Louisville Purge” threat and that it was just supposed to be a “fun” thing. He has admitted that he was quite “shocked” when the story was picked up by the media.
While this juvenile may have thought he was just engaging in a funny prank, clearly taxpayers are on the hook for the additional resources that were employed to increase the surveillance and patrol efforts of Louisville police. In addition, had the momentum of social media pushed the prank into action, innocent people could have been the victims of a night of lawless mob violence. Although it may sound like something right out of a cheap horror flick, such an event is not out of the realm of possibility given a current culture of mob activity that seems to arise at a moment’s notice with the slightest provocation.
Opinion By Alana Marie Burke