WHEN IS ENOUGH ENOUGH? RE-ENACTORS OUT OF CONTROL
It pains the FBO to say it, but plans for the re-enactment of the Battle for Hutchens must be put on hold until safety precautions can be met so that no FBO re-enactors catch on fire or are killed by passing by police.
A quick look around in the world of military re-enactments finds way too many injuries. Face burns, twisted ankles, gunshot wounds, jousting deaths for TV shows, exhaustion.
The New York Times recently reported of a Virginian rebel re-enactor at a re-enactment in Pennsylvania who was charged with 'reckless handling of a fireharm,' for unknowingly shooting a 73-year-old New York re-enactor, who was hit in the sholder. It took months for investigators to figure out where the bullet came from, using film footage of the event. The Virginian may pay a fine of up to $2500.
Close call for the New Yorker. Sadly it's only the tip of bloody bandage.
In October 2008 in Geelong, Australia, a pyrotechnician lost three fingers and received severe burns on his face and neck after a military demonstration had ended. He was hit by a wall of flame after trying to throw a 200-litre drum that hadn't exploded onto a fire.
A couple weeks ago, a 22-year-old Washington state WWII re-enactor, who often walked around in German uniforms, was shot and killed by police at 2am in Seattle, after there were complaints of uniformed men shooting rifles in an alley. Apparently 'you there, stop that' or 'put down that thing' no longer is a Seattle police tactic.
In 2007 in Australia, a professional jouster was killed for TV. During the filming of a joust event for an Australian TV program, a lance splinter shot threw his mask eye slit and pierced his eye. He died a week later.
It's not just a recent phenomenon of course. In October 1967, 22 re-enactors were tossed in the air during a blast at a Civil War re-enactment near Nashville. At Gettysburg in late 1980s, a Charlottesville, Virginia, re-enactor was once shot by a re-enactor from France.
Most re-enactments make careful precautions to avoid injury, but it's too frequently not enough.
In 2001, conceptual artist Jeremy Deller organized a recreation of an 1984 English miner's strike (aka the Battle of Orgreave) for a video. The event directors carefully requested participants pull their blows between police and scruffy miners. According to one report, it 'worked so well that on the day, only one self-inflicted injury (a twisted knee) was sustained.'
Similarly there was no absence from injury at the recent re-enactment of the Battle of Bannockburn. According to their website, 'the most serious injury of the weekend came after the second days fighting when someone damaged their ankle on a rabbit hole.'
The FBO is considering a simple 'walk through' of the Battle for Hutchens, with no weapons (real, fake, loaded or unloaded), instead using profanity and sound effects from spinsters representing either side.
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