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Reason for arrests demanded (1)

Letter to Glavin:

You are quoted in the April 10 issue of The Boston Globe as saying that the police responded because unauthorized structures are not allowed on MIT property. The "unauthorized structure" was a fragile, box-like imitation of a "shanty." It was "on the [MIT] property" for not even a minute before the police destroyed it.

We have heard various rumored explanations of the police actions. Some say the police must have been under pressure from the MIT administration. Some say that the police, frustrated by a variety of job-related concerns, were eager to use the demonstration as an outlet for their generalized anger. Another rumor, which we have not heard but which is perhaps circulating among police is that students were verbally or physically harassing police. We do not know if the first two rumors are correct. We know only that the last is not. The crowd of students was an orderly one; the people who were engaged in disorderly behavior were the MIT police. Students are not interested in confrontations with the police. They are interested in expressing their opposition to MIT's investment policies.

There is no excuse for police physically attacking and arrest-ing students who have gathered peacefully. There is no excuse for police initiating aggression against a peaceful group of students who have gathered to articulate their beliefs. As students who pay tuition to attend MIT, we are not trespassing when we come together on the green across 77 Massachusetts Avenue. As citizens who express our beliefs in a manner near a public street, we are fully within our rights. Even the "unauthorized structure" which the police set upon had not touched the ground when police began destroying it and grabbing students who were carrying it. In purely legal terms, an object must touch the ground to be considered a structure. When the MIT police began attacking students, the object the students carried was merely a large box.

As chief of Campus Police, what explanation can you give for police-initiated violence? What steps are you going to take to ensure that the MIT police force's understanding of its responsibilities does not extend to violating students' civil liberties and injecting violence into a peaceful gathering? Students appear to have been singled out at random for arrest, and several of us noticed particularly aggressive behavior being directed towards students of color. We need to know that the MIT police received effective training in this sensitive matter. The events which occurred on April 9 must not be allowed to happen again.