A cluster of condemned scuba cylinders was at the heart of a dump-wide fight Wednesday at Blacktip Island’s annual Dump-Off Repurposing Challenge at the small Caribbean island’s landfill. (photo courtesy of Jay Valve)
A melee among contestants at Blacktip Island’s 17th annual Dump-Off Repurposing Challenge Wednesday sent four people to jail, nine to the medical clinic and caused event organizers to cancel the contest.
“Everything was fine—we let contestants scope out the dump the day before, and off they went when we dropped the flag at dawn,” DORC chairperson Jay Valve said. “Then Linford Blenny and Edwin Chub, of all people, got in a scuffle over some condemned scuba cylinders and things spiraled from there.
“Next thing we knew, all the other contestants had joined in, whacking each other with bike wheels, bits of rotted roof tin, and anything else they could get their hands on,” Valve said. “It took us, and Rafe Marquette, a quarter of an hour to get everybody disarmed and disengaged. Dump-Offers are always keyed up and competitive, but I’ve never seen anything like this.”
Bystanders were shocked by the unexpected violence.
“We bring the kiddos every year so they can watch the DORCs in action,” Chrissy Graysby said. “It inspires them to be engineers. And garbage collectors. But now, they’re hiding under their beds and won’t stop crying. It’s frightening how a community event like this could erupt into a riot.
“Usually it’s quite Zen-like, with folks working all day to make something new and useful out of stuff someone else threw away,” Graysby said. “Last year, Clete Horne won with his lightsaber. Well sort of a lightsaber. It looked the part, but all it did was glow. And zap mosquitos. The little ones were so impressed. Now this.”
Island authorities arrested the riot’s instigators.
“Linford and Edwin were the first two I handcuffed,” Island Police Constable Rafe Marquette said. “And Dermott Bottoms and James Conlee weren’t far behind. Other folks were just defending themselves, but those four lit the fuse by initiating multiple assaults.”
Blenny and Chub claimed innocence.
“I seen that scuba tank first and had my hand on it,” Blenny said. “Eyeballed it yesterday, then made a beeline to it when they dropped that flag. Next thing I know, little Edwin Chub’s walloping me with a set of handlebars and yelling I was taking what was his. Well, I walloped back, but good, with a busted rake. He had it coming, cheating like that.”
Chub denied the allegations.
“Linford was clearly in the wrong. I called dibs on the entire stack of cylinders as soon as the flag fell,” he said. “That counts. Yes, I pummeled him with the handlebars. And he’ll get an encore pummeling if he tries claim-jumping again.”
Event organizers are already studying safety measures for next year’s contest.
“Gonna come up with a hard-and-fast list of rules covering dibs, firsties and what have you for claiming items,” Valve said. “We want to get back to the days when folks’d calmly make a nice cooler out of an old fridge, or a fire pit from a washer drum. This is why we can’t repurpose nice stuff in the dump.”