The Tech - Online EditionMIT's oldest and largest
newspaper & the first
newspaper published
on the web
Boston Weather: 65.0°F | Overcast

CPs monitored CAA meetings

By Linda D'Angelo

Plainclothes officers of the Campus Police have been present at open meetings of the Coalition Against Apartheid, according to Campus Police Chief Anne P. Glavin. This confirms charges made earlier this month by CAA members.

The CAA complaints prompted President Paul E. Gray '54 to ask that the practice be stopped.

Glavin specifically confirmed that a plainclothes officer attended a CAA meeting held in Ashdown House on March 20. While the officer stayed in the lounge where the meeting was held until coalition members relocated to another room, plainclothes officers "do not usually listen to the whole meeting," she noted.

"The meeting was not a secret, it was postered all over campus and held in an open lounge," Glavin said. "A meeting that has such widespread community interest is fair game," she added.

By sending plainclothes officers to CAA meetings, Glavin contended, the Campus Police is "not doing anything underhanded or strange, as the coalition would like to imply." The officers are part of the MIT community, and so "if a meeting is postered and open to the community we have as much right as anyone else to be there," she said.

"The bottom line is safety," Glavin said. Any group or topic that "has the potential for drawing large crowds and a potential for confrontation" is a cause for concern, she added.

In fact, Glavin said, "it's part of our job" to attend these meetings in order to stay informed. While some groups keep in contact with Campus Police, and inform the department of a planned meeting or activity, "the coalition does not tell us what it's going to do," Glavin said. She felt that this lack of communication was unfortunate and wished "they would be upfront."

Joshua R. Freeze '92, a CAA member, questioned the Campus Police assumption that the group's activities should be monitored. The CAA's "actions have never indicated that we are going to use violence, either towards people or towards property," he said. In the face of this "prejudgment that we are going to do something crazy," he questioned why the CAA should cooperate with the Campus Police.

While "the coalition is not being targeted," Glavin said, "they have proven that there is cause for public safety concerns."

There is no set rule for sending plainclothes officers to meetings or activities, Glavin said. It is "not a written policy, it has been an evolving thing," she explained. "You make the judgment based on your training."

This lack of a written policy is not a concern, according to Gray. "A great deal of what we do is on the basis of common law," he explained, and "written down policies tend to evolve when events occur that seem to be outside the boundary of common law."

"If there is an area in which the sense of the community is that the common law needs to be codified, that policy needs to be clarified, we will do so," Gray said. But, for now, Gray felt "that there is not a need to do that."

CAA members, however, feel that the Campus Police was "spying and there should be a policy against that," according to member Ronald W. Francis G. In general, he explained, "all actions being done by the Campus Police should be approved by the community they are policing over."

Francis suggested that a committee be formed to "approve certain actions of the police." Since the Campus Police "seem to have their main interaction with students and staff," he <>

said, "they should have the most weight on that committee, with faculty and administration as well."

Gray orders halt

to infiltration

Gray acknowledged the "effort on the part of the Campus Police to count heads at CAA meetings." With regards to the meeting at Ashdown, he believed "that it was honestly accidental that an officer sat in on a coalition meeting."

Had "instructions to do that been issued, and had I know about them, I would have asked to have that stopped," Gray said.

According to Gray, this practice of infiltrating meetings ended April 10. It was on that day that Gray met with CAA members who expressed their "concerns about Campus Police in plainclothes at their meetings," he said. Later that day, Gray talked with Glavin and Senior Vice President William R. Dickson '56, and told them that he "wanted it to stop."

From that time on it has been the practice of the Campus Police, Gray said, "not to have anyone present at CAA meetings."

Francis said coalition members do not think that their meetings are still being infiltrated, "but <>

it's not impossible that they have sent someone we did not recognize." The Campus Police "have ways of infiltrating us without our knowing, so it is possible that they are still doing it," he explained.

Gray, while respecting Glavin's argument that plainclothes officers have a right to attend open meetings, felt it was "not appropriate for Campus Police or anyone else to infiltrate the meetings, the fact that they publicize them not withstanding."

The real question, Gray said, is not whether "Campus Police officers have a right to be there, [but] whether they are going <>

to exercise that right." Gray has "asked that [the Campus Police] not exercise that right, and the chief has agreed," he explained.

Despite the apparent contradiction in their statements, Gray said that he and Glavin were <>

"not an inch apart on how the Campus Police should act at this time."

CPs videotape protests

Glavin confirmed that officers took photographs at the March 2, April 6 and April 9 demonstrations organized by the CAA, and that a videotape was also taken on April 6. The officers specifically "focused on police processes such as confrontations and arrests," she explained, in order to "document these processes for our own purposes."

The chief noted that in the divestment demonstrations in the spring term of 1986, there "was a concern that Campus Police had done too much random photographing." While "that concern was valid and justified at that time, it is not valid and justified now," she said.

"Random taping is not an appropriate way to videotape," and "it is not our policy," Glavin explained. The Campus Police "will most certainly do photographing in a very focused way," she added.

Such "photographic documentation is a very common practice," Glavin explained. The officers "weren't doing it to gather files on coalition members," she added.

Gray also believed the videotaping and photographing was justified. As opposed to a CAA meeting, "a demonstration is a public event," he explained. Therefore, "if Campus Police are involved, it seems to me appropriate to generate a video record of it."

Gray added that the practice of videotaping demonstrations or other public events will continue.

Francis, however, felt that there was a difference between the Campus Police taking photographs and CAA members taking them. The officers "can take pictures of someone at a demonstration, find out who they are, and then somehow use their power to make sure that person does not get fair treatment," he said.

The CAA members, on the other hand, are photographing the demonstrations "as an act of defense, to show that they are being brutalized," Francis explained. This "power differential has to be understood," he added.

As long as the Campus Police "demonstrate that they are going to harass students politically, and as long as they are not under the control of the community they police over, then they shouldn't be taking pictures, because that allows them to abuse their power," Francis concluded.

There is no set policy for when officers may videotape student demonstrations, Glavin said. "A lot of the guideline has to be judgment," she explained.