Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Students React to Palmerfest Brutality

Mary Davies

In the aftermath of the near-riot at Saturday’s Palmerfest, the police are reviewing pictures and videos to identify unruly students.

Athens Police Chief Rick Mayer says they are using media from the incident to look for students breaking the law. However, the Athens Police Department declined to comment further on the investigation. Dean of Students Ryan Lombardi said that while the University does not have the man power to hold their own investigation, they will comply with the APD to help identify students if possible.

Dean of Students, Ryan Lombardi

Many Ohio University students are opposed to the idea of reviewing footage with the intent of identifying students. Jesse Dambrovia and Chris Locke, along with other students, said that “what’s done is done.”

Jesse Dambrovia, Resident 118 Mill Street

Chris Locke, Palmerfest Attendee

However, the APD are not the only ones who have rights. Students who complain of the police brutality they experienced can do something about it. According to the APD, if a student wants to file a complaint about police brutality, they can stop in at the station to pick up the necessary paperwork.

What Students Saw

The Post newspaper reported that several students felt that the police used unnecessary force in trying to restore order to Palmer and Mill streets. David Gold, a resident of 134 Mill, said that at one point during the chaos, police demanded that he clear his porch and then began pushing people into the house.

"The last guy, the last cop, pushed me into my house and slammed the door," Gold said, adding he tried to move everyone inside as fast as he could. "I lived here last year and it was nothing like this."

Sarah Meadema, a junior healthcare administration major, said that a mounted police officer ran someone into the bushes outside her house.

"The police, there's no reason for the violence they're doing. They beat a kid with a club for no reason at all.”

Chris Grimaldi, a senior MIS and marketing major, said that he witnessed police rip a screen, break a window and knock over a speaker.

Rebecca Rak, an OU student, left a comment on The Post’s website describing what she witnessed. She described a scene where a girl was backed into a tree by a mounted officer. The girl was crying and had nowhere to go. Then a male stepped in to help her.

“Finally, a young man stepped in and asked the officer to leave her alone, because she was scared and trying to leave. Granted, the guy had to yell in order for the officer to hear him, but it in no way was in a threatening manner. Next thing I know, I see the young man being wrestled and clubbed to the ground by not one, not two, not three, but FOUR officers, and one of them saying, ‘B**** had her chance to leave.’”

What I Saw

I also witnessed the events take place from the roof of my house at 136 Mill Street . Around midnight, the festivities on Palmer Street were dying down but parties on Mill Street were really picking up. Students were partying in the street, taking up at least one full lane of traffic.

The trouble started when mounted police rushed the yard of 123 Mill Street , where a large party was taking place. The mounted police chased students all the way to the backyard. Then riot police with nightsticks forced students off of the street and sidewalks.

The riot police hit students with sticks as they tried to run away. Someone at 134 Mill also came outside and witnessed an officer continuously hitting a student with a nightstick. When the 134 Mill resident said, “Is that really necessary?”, the officer charged onto the porch.

Dambrovia, another Mill Street resident, is currently wearing a brace on his foot. He explained that a mounted officer actually ran him over in his own yard, causing him to seek treatment from O’Bleness Memorial Hospital.

According to the APD, no complaints have been filed against Athens Police Officers. However, Dean Lombardi says he is meeting with students who have concerns about how law enforcement officials handled the situation.

See For Yourself

Student recorded video of Palmerfest. (Taken from YouTube)

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