Clark University – Arrest Report

The independent Bowditch report to Clark University about the arrests of June 1/2 has been published on the Clark website.

Among other things, the report misspells ‘cannister’ and ‘Louden Street’ – but perhaps I’m more nitpicky than attorneys that get hundreds of dollars an hour.

That said, there are some interesting items:

1 – ‘[The WPD Tactical Unit] periodically deployed pepper spray cannisters and other non-lethal crowd-control devices such as stinger grenades and sponge rounds. No “tear gas” was used.’

This seems to be splitting hairs to me, but it’s a nice admission of what the WPD was using. I’ll refer readers to factcheck.org for whether pepper spray is ‘tear gas’ and to their own consciences about whether it was warranted in this instance.

2 – The WPD originally called the Clark University PD for assistance with directing traffic. When David Russo was profiled outside of his home and treated poorly by another university’s cops, there were questions (which remain unanswered) about under what circumstances the city will cals campus police for assistance, and what our rights are as citizens when one of these police officers responds to a call. I think these are questions that our elected officials should be asking and demanding answers.

3 – It’s clear that the WPD pushed the protesters in the direction of Clark (“The Tactical Unit deployed pepper spray, stinger grenades and sponge rounds and the crowd began moving south on Main Street towards where CUPD cruisers were positioned.”)

4 – Honestly, from reading this, I think Clark was absolutely right in their statement about the WPD. The WPD called their officers and it’s unclear what they were doing while CUPD cops in two cruisers were being attacked by a crowd (?!?) — “The Tactical Unit deployed pepper spray, stinger grenades and sponge rounds and the crowd began moving south on Main Street towards where CUPD cruisers were positioned. The combination of protesters and backed-up traffic blocked these cruisers from moving. A large group surrounded the cruisers and began throwing rocks and bottles at them, with the officers seated inside. Objects were thrown directly at the
windshields, doors and windows of both cruisers. The side panels of one of the cruisers were repeatedly kicked and each of the cruisers was extensively damaged. Side, back and front windows were shattered, and
the body of each vehicle was dented and scraped. The CUPD officers were eventually able to maneuver their vehicles around the blockade and to return to campus.”

At the point described in that statement, there were approximately 20-40 people in the crowd and 35-40 (not sure why there aren’t exact numbers!) WPD Tactical Unit members. If indeed the maximum protester to police ratio was 1:1, why were two CUPD vehicles damaged in the way they were?

5 – The last two conclusions are interesting!

  1. None of the four Clark students whom we interviewed acted violently or destructively. While two of them clearly were aware of the orders to disperse, the other two may not have been and apparently did nothing else to warrant their arrests.
  2. Arrests are not polite events, but they should involve only those actions which are required to accomplish them. Even in the situation described in this report, that standard applies. Actions taken during the arrests of the Clark students did not meet that standard.

I’m interested to hear what others get out of this report.

6 thoughts on “Clark University – Arrest Report

  1. Walter Crockett says:

    I think this section of the report deserves mention. This seems like significant disorder and violence by the crowd. Whether it deserved the ultimate police response is another question, but this is not normal “protest” activity and we shouldn’t expect it to generate positive results, nor should we expect police to ignore it:

    “The Tactical Unit ordered the crowd to disperse and to go home. The majority of the crowd ignored these orders. Some began assailing the police with flares, fireworks, rocks, comete, bottles, and other debris. One man was observed on a nearby rooftop holding in his hand a device that appeared to be a Molotov cocktail.
    When he was arrested, it was confirmed that this was indeed a Molotov cocktail and several more of them were discovered in his satchel. Some officers were struck and injured by material thrown and fired at them.
    One officer was burned by a flare shot directly into the line of police.
    For approximately the next two hours, the Tactical Unit, supported by regularly uniformed WPD officers,continued its efforts to disperse the crowd, moving forward and back on Main Street, and giving direct orders to leave. They periodically deployed pepper spray cannisters and other non-lethal crowd-control devices such as stinger grenades2 and sponge rounds.3 No “tear gas” was used. Although the crowd thinned over time, a number of protesters (more than 20 but less than 40) remained and continued to throw objects at the

    2 A stinger grenade is a rubber bodied device that delivers rubber pellets, light t1ashes and loud sounds.
    3 A sponge round is a projectile with a foam tip used to deter non-compliant subjects.

    Page 3
    police and to damage property along Main Street, including by breaking windows on store fronts and lighting at least one fire. At approximately 10:30 p.m., the Clark University Police Department (CUPD)4 was called by the WPD to assist with controlling vehicular traffic. The Clark officers responded in two marked vehicles. Upon arriving, they observed what they described as a large crowd facing the Tactical Unit, which was positioned in a line across Main Street to the north of the protesters. They observed the protesters throwing rocks, bricks and bottles and shooting fireworks and shouting obscenities at the Tactical Unit. The protestors also began taunting, shouting obscenities and directing racial slurs at the Clark officers, who heard repeated
    orders by the Tactical Unit to disperse and to leave.”

    I don’t see you disputing this part of the account, and I don’t think I’ve seen Bill Shaner dispute it. If it is true, exactly what did the people who engaged in this activity expect would or should be the response of police?

    And how is this kind of activity likely to produce the change that the people who attended the City Hall rally are seeking?

    • Nicole says:

      I can’t justify violence against anyone, and I won’t. Obviously, the Bowditch report was related to the Clark students in particular, who were charged with disorderly conduct and disturbing the peace. It appears that at least two of them were guilty of leaving their house and walking down the street while taking video.

      I’ve been thinking a lot about how reliable the police accounts are, and there are so many questions I have that remain unanswered (by this report and other sources).

      1 – The FBI account says that “[a]t approximately 10:00 p.m., a large crowd blocked traffic and began throwing objects in the direction of the police.” In the Bowditch report and in the WPD account, there was only ONE police officer and he needed to call backup, which did not arrive until 10:15pm. Now, perhaps these two accounts are consistent — but I’ve never understood why in the WPD’s ‘smoking gun’ video (taken from the corner of Main and May), the crowd is coming down from Hammond onto Main unless there was something preventing them.
      (That is, the logistics that led to there being a crowd that made its way from Hammond Street towards Clark have not made a lot of sense to me — but maybe I’m not understanding the timeline.)

      I’m not sure if Tom Matthews was posting at exactly those times, but at 10:35pm he posted a video of a crowd coming down Main Street and being blocked in. (I think this seems to have happened BEFORE his video from 10:09pm, which I’ve linked to below – so I’d guess this is closer to 10:00pm.)

      We had been told by the WPD and elected officials that if we, the public, could see what they’d seen, we’d be sure that the WPD was right. This report makes references to recordings, and I assume they are mostly witness/participant recordings. From the WPD/city, we’ve never seen anything but a video of a crowd approaching a cop near his vehicle — no looting, no throwing things, etc. — and that matches Tom Matthews’ video.

      It’s unclear to me why only one short, non-threatening-crowd video is the only ‘official’ video to come out of a multi-hour-long incident.

      2 – Regarding the fire: I know that Tom Matthews had written that “a person was seen lighting a fire in bushes in front of the Main Street Dunkin’.”

      I don’t think the fire, or the fireworks, or the kid on the roof with a malfunctioning Molotov cocktail is in question.

      To me: it’s a question of escalation.

      In one video Matthews posted beginning at 10:09 PM, the crowd is loud but peaceful and being pushed up Hammond Street; around the 9:40 mark (about 10:20pm) he says ‘police in riot gear’ [the Tactical Unit] appear. At 10:24 mark, he says “this scene took a quick turn once police in riot gear showed up.”

      Now, I think that was a bit of hyperbole, but then when we hear about what happened the rest of the night, it DID take a turn.

      Would things have happened differently if they hadn’t brought out the Tactical Unit? We don’t know — and we’d be wondering what would have happened if they HAD brought them out in an alternative universe…

      3 – I want to sort of come back to the “lone cop who got surrounded” account, because that seems to be what set off the escalation.
      According to the WPD press release:
      “There was a police cruiser parked near the intersection of Hammond St and Main St, blocking traffic from Hammond to Main St. When the crowd got to Main and Hammond St, they turned off Main and began to surround the cruiser. The officer called for assistance, ran from the cruiser on foot, and the Tactical Patrol Force was activated to prevent the violence from escalating.”
      But the video shows him on Main Street, not running anywhere (maybe they’re talking about a different police cruiser? but then why would that have been the one WPD video released to the public?), and when we look at Matthews’ video, there is no violence from the crowd and the Tactical Unit shows up.

      4 – One of the things that has concerned me is the difference in the FBI account of Vincent Eovacious and the WPD account (which doesn’t spell his name right)

      FBI account, which makes it sound as if he was briefly on the roof and then was apprehended later:
      At approximately 10:00 p.m., a large crowd blocked traffic and began throwing objects in the direction of the police. As officers on scene gathered into a line formation, one officer observed a man dressed in a trench coat standing on top of a building at 848 Main Street which is clearly marked, “No Trespassing.” The man, later identified as Eovacious, allegedly yelled for the crowd below to kill the police and paced back and forth on the rooftop. The officer then observed Eovacious remove from a bottle from his satchel that appeared to contained liquid and attempt to insert a rag into the bottle while holding a silver object that the officer believed to be a lighter. Minutes later, officers observed Eovacious walking in the area of May and Main Streets, still carrying the satchel, and stopped him. According to court documents, officers searched the satchel and recovered three clear glass bottles with a slightly yellow liquid that smelled of gasoline, five white rags, one green lighter and one silver lighter. Eovacious stated that the liquid in the glass bottles was gasoline and that he was “with the anarchist group” and was “waiting for an opportunity.”

      WPD account, which makes it sound like they talked him down:
      While this disturbance was in progress, officers discovered that an individual, later identified as Vincent Eovarious, eighteen-years-old of W Lake St, was on the roof of Pennywise Market, armed with several Molotov cocktails. Officers talked to Mr. Eovarious for approximately ten minutes, at which point he surrendered and was taken into custody.

  2. Fran says:

    Please publish the whole report not just the conclusion! I thought I was watching Animal House! BS

  3. […] and Dewey regarding the events of June 1, specifically in connection to Clark University students. Nicole, Worcester shared some of her concerns, and Bill Shaner calls for an independent investigation of the entire […]

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