Student group addresses police brutality

On October 23, 2013

 

Katharine Orr, a senior majoring in political science and biomedical science and president of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), began her presentation Tuesday evening in the by pulling up YouTube videos of what she called “good cops.”

“There are still good cops that exist out there,” she said. “(Cops) that are willing to stand up for our rights.”

Oct. 22 is recognized as National Day Against Police Brutality and members of YAL hosted a discussion in the Marshall Student Center in hopes of getting students to be aware of their rights when confronted with law enforcement.

Orr said finding “good cop” videos on the Internet wasn’t an easy task.

“You’d be surprised at how long I had to search for good cop videos—there are so many bad cop videos,” she said.

After playing a “good cop” video, Orr segued into the purpose of the meeting: Law enforcement, she said, is abusing authority.

She referred to the Nov 18, 2011 incident at UC Davis involving students staging an Occupy protest against tuition hikes, who were subsequently pepper-sprayed by the university’s police department.

She played a video showing the police indiscriminately spraying students who sat handcuffed on the ground screaming.

Orr then played videos of people who filmed themselves crossing border checkpoints.

When asked by Border Patrol officers if they were American citizens, the person retorted with “Am I being detained?” After a few moments of the volley between the Border Patrol officer and the driver, the driver was eventually allowed to leave without answering the question.

“That is probably the absolute best way to respond to a situation like this,” Jared D’Ambrosio, a sophomore majoring in English said. “Because ‘Am I being detained?’ is a question that in no way can be interpreted in a self-incriminating manner.”

Orr asked participants if law enforcement officers had ever asked to use dogs to search their vehicles.

After a few moments passed, Antonio Brown, a junior majoring in social work and psychology, spoke up.

Brown said he and his friends were driving through New Port Richey to a funeral when they were pulled over.

Brown said he remembered the officer’s questions: Are you gang members? Do you have any guns or drugs on you?

“[The officer] was saying, ‘Do we have to get the dog?’” Brown said.

“He eventually let us go,” he said. “Because we didn’t agree to a search or anything.”

Vincent McCoige, a philosophy graduate student, was the president of YAL last year and attended the event. McCoige said the meeting showed students how to assert their rights in an encounter with police officers “to make sure that they aren’t overstepping their bounds.”

McCoige also stressed that the group’s message was universal. “I think also, most people tend to already inherently agree with us,” he said. “At least to some extent. We just have to point out where it is that they agree.”

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