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!
- 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.
- 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.