CPs bring Penn, Francis before COD for assult
By Andrea Lamberti
Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin has filed a formal complaint with the Committee on Discipline against two demonstrators, in conjunction with the March 2 demonstration for divestment from South Africa.
The demonstration, called by the Coalition Against Apartheid, rallied in front of the home of President Paul E. Gray '54 and in the Alfred P. Sloan Building, and did not result in any arrests.
In a report dated March 23 from Glavin to COD chair Sheila E. Widnall '60, Steven D. Penn G was charged with assault, and Ronald W. Francis G was charged with assault and assault and battery on a police officer.
Widnall "reviewed the complaint and decided that a hearing is warranted," Assistant Dean for Student Affairs Arnold R. Henderson said in an April 3 letter to Penn. The COD hearing is scheduled for May 8, Penn said.
Glavin said yesterday that the two were charged because they were "the only ones that [officer Rosie L. Sanders] could identify."
Sanders was injured when demonstrators occupied an elevator in Building E52 during the demonstration. She is still out on injury, Glavin said.
In Sanders' affidavit in the Campus Police report, she named one other demonstrator, Mark A. Smith G, and two other "unidentified" demonstrators. The summary report also lists 12 other people involved in the demonstration.
Also, "Glavin alleges that during the course of protest activities on March 2, 1990, [Penn was] directly responsible for the injuries of two MIT police officers," the Henderson letter continues.
Penn and Francis denied all the charges and maintained that they were being singled out as leaders of the pro-divestment movement.
"I think this is a case of political harassment," Penn said. "The fact that they only charged Ron and I out of what was a much larger group . . . is the most blatant evidence for that," he continued.
Penn believed the charges were part of "a strategy to target the people they perceive as leaders . . . and they're using it as a form of intimidation, believing that if Ron and I are punished enough, . . . the demonstrations and the divestment movement will be stopped."
Glavin denied that Francis and Penn were accused to set an example for other demonstrators on campus.
Widnall refused to comment on the case. "I can't even acknowledge that we're going to hear that case, or that there is a case. It's a serious right of privacy for students," she said.
Henderson would not comment on the possible outcome of the hearing. The cases are usually determined on "a case-by-case basis. There are a range" of disciplinary actions, if the COD chair decides to hear a case, he said. The sanctions range "from a student being found innocent of all charges, all the way to [being] expelled," he added.
Charged with rushing
into Sloan elevator
Francis and Penn were charged with assault because they "led a rush of demonstrators into an elevator at E52," an action which "caused an injury to Sanders," the report states. Francis is charged with assault and battery on a police officer because he "kicked Officer [Robert J.] Molino," according to the report.
During the demonstration, approximately eight students occupied the only elevator that was programmed to go to the sixth floor, where MIT Corporation members were having lunch. According to the report, five Campus Police officers were injured "as a result of this demonstration and the subsequent confrontation with MIT Police." Several students also "suffered injuries," Francis claimed.
Both Penn and Francis were also charged with violating the section of MIT Policies and Procedures (3.33.3) that states "all members of the MIT community are expected to conduct themselves with proper respect for one another and for each other's property," according to the report.
Francis violated this policy, the report states, when he "kicked Officer Molino and led the rush onto the elevator subsequently injuring Officer Sanders."
According to the report, Penn acted in violation of the policy when he "assisted in leading the rush onto the elevator subsequently injuring Officer Sanders."
Demonstrators deny charges
Both Penn and Francis denied the charges of assault and battery. Francis said he did not kick Officer Molino, an incident the report claims occurred while some of the demonstrators were grouped in the stairwell.
Penn claimed he did not initiate the "rush" on the elevator, because he arrived at the Sloan building after demonstrators gathered in front of the first-floor lobby.
"I didn't even see the rush [into the elevator]. When I got to the lobby, they were already inside," he said.
Francis also denied leading demonstrators into the elevator; he said it was a "false charge."