Police treated students wrongfully

Joshua Iselin

Why do police officers in University City treat students so unfairly? Being from the east coast, I thought cops couldn’t get any more unreasonable; evidently I was wrong. A recent encounter a friend of mine had with the fuzz made me quiver with powerlessness.

On Oct. 26, he had a few people over-by no means a party. No blaring music was playing on that Saturday night: just some 21 year-olds exercising their God-given right to enjoy a few cold ones. Approximately 20 people were in attendance. The police showed up, and instructed everyone to leave due to noise complaints. I had no problem with leaving: it was getting a bit late and the night was winding down anyway.

Yet Jesse Blanner, the tenant of the apartment, did. He started trying to reason with the police officer, asking why they entered the apartment without permission. After some exchange of words (notably the officer’s “What the fuck you gonna do about it,” according to Jesse) the police left and the problem seemed resolved.

But the policeman was evidently left unsatisfied with his position of power in the proceedings. Some 30 minutes later, after the “party” was completely extinguished, a group of police revisited the building apparently with the sole intention of teaching a punk student a lesson. Jesse’s apartment is on the third floor of the building, which the police had obviously forgotten as they walked uninvited into the apartment below. Opening up bedroom doors in this seemingly abandoned apartment (behind the second one stood a completely naked Tricia Fessler), the police demanded to know where Jesse was.

After learning that Jesse lived upstairs, the police knocked and demanded he come out. They promptly put him in handcuffs, claiming that someone made another complaint about the noise. Jesse maintains that after asking if he was being arrested and why he hadn’t been read his rights, one officer mentioned he hadn’t asked Jesse any questions, and therefore didn’t need to read him “shit.” This is not standard operating procedure for a well-trained, professional police force.

Jesse was brought to jail, at which point he was finally told why he was being arrested. It is clear there were no more noise complaints, as the police had entered a completely empty apartment searching for Jesse. The charge brought against him was disturbing the peace, and he was held in jail for approximately two hours.

How is this possible, you ask?

As students, we have no political pull. We have little disposable income, are temporary residents, and are therefore powerless in the eyes of the community, and subsequently in the eyes of the police. School isn’t reality. In reality everyone is held to the same standards. By no means am I claiming reality is fair, but perhaps this view of school as a fantasy world leads to our apathetic and helpless attitude, which the police are able to capitalize upon.

I explained this story to a friend, whose response was that of indifference. “We do lots of illegal stuff, and the cops leave us alone most of the time. Why should we get all upset over one pissed-off cop?” I encourage readers not to take this point of view, which propagates an air of laziness to the community. Jesse has been in contact with the American Civil Liberty Union, in conjunction with similar cases drawn against the U City Police Department. He is drawing a line in the sand and not allowing himself to become another listless victim.

Does this sort of problem happen often? Though I don’t expect to go out and wake up in a cell, I do recognize that I will have to deal with the police each and every weekend night. In the area between campus and the loop, I believe, WUPD drive around looking for parties. When they find one, they call U-City cops, who come to break them up. I have seen this happen. Why this tension? Why are parties constantly broken up when nobody is even complaining? And why are the WU students constantly at the crux of the conflict?

The police force of U-City faces a conflict of interests every weekend. While attempting to protect and serve one group of people, they are ostracizing another. We as “temporary” members of the community must recognize that people do sleep during prime party hours. But when nobody complains, what gives anyone the right to stop a gathering? There must be a happy medium, where the treatment described earlier holds no place. WU students: stand up for yourselves. Learn and know your rights. You too can get arrested for insulting someone’s ego.

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