Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Homeless Man Recounts Unwarranted Brush with Harvard Police

By: Julia Waterhous

On February 27th, around 9pm Kenneth Thomas had an encounter with the Harvard Police outside the Harvard Square shelter while waiting for a meal there. The policemen pulled up in front of the shelter and asked for Thomas by name. He identified himself, and the police told him they had a default warrant for his arrest. The police proceeded to wrestle Thomas to the ground and put him in the squad car to take down to the station where they discovered that there was no warrant for his arrest.

7 comments:

Morgan W. Brown said...

its great that Spare Change has a blog & is also posting to it more now too.

by the way, if you go to the layout section & then add new gadget (aka element) within the sidebar, one option SC could use for its blog is to add the Followers gadget, which would allow SC and anyone else to see who is publicly following the blog (those following the blog privately would of course not be shown): e.g., I've been following your blog since I came across it a little while ago.

Anonymous said...

I'm confused. This article by Julia Waterhous says that Harvard Police arrested Kenneth Thomas falsely. Does she mean officers employed by the town of Harvard? But the first lines of the article state that Mr. Thomas was "arrested" outside the shelter on Winthrop Street in Harvard Square. Harvard Square is in Cambridge; that is, the city of Cambridge. I realize Harvard University has its own police department, but I didn't realize it also had jurisdiction to perform the services of the city police department. Harvard University is a private corporation. The city of Cambridge is, well, a municipality governed by a council which is elected to represent its residents -- all of them. Anyone standing on a city sidewalk is subject to questioning by CITY police, if he or she is clearly doing something illegal. I'm not sure what shocks me more -- that we live in a fascist city, or that the naked fascism exhibited by Harvard police didn't warrant comment by Ms. Waterhous.

Anonymous said...

Can't the Harvard Universtiy Police be sued for false arrest in this case? And assault on top of that?

I've had another friend harassed on the streets around Harvard U. just for looking in a trash can. I.e., basically they didn't like what he was doing, although there was nothing illegal about it.

Or maybe there's an anti-trash-can-opening statute somewhere, alongside the "vagrancy" statutes.

Beginning to look like HUPD is pretty much a bunch of goons.

Anonymous said...

It's FASCISM.

http://www.nowpublic.com/world/gestapo-usa-govt-funded-vigilante-network-terrorizes-america

You live in a FASCIST DICTATORSHIP.

Casual Reader said...

Anonymous: I realize Harvard University has its own police department, but I didn't realize it also had jurisdiction to perform the services of the city police department. Harvard University is a private corporation.

Harvard, MIT, BU, and other large Boston-area schools whose campuses span multiple towns and jurisdictions have police forces. These police forces are deputized by the Commonwealth and can do pretty much anything a regular police force can in their jurisdiction. Harvard University Police, for example, are deputized in both Middlesex and Suffolk counties (because Harvard has campuses in both Cambridge and Boston). They're probably not going to pull you over for speeding or making an illegal turn, but they can in fact arrest people, execute warrants, blow through red lights with their sirens on, and do just about anything the Cambridge cops can.

Compare with a smaller college, such as Lesley University, which has public safety officers who are not deputized. Those officers can detain people for trespassing on private property (to the extent that you could detain someone for trespassing in your own house), but can't arrest people.

This is not a comment on whether or not the action was justified (it sounds like it wasn't), but the Harvard University Police do in fact have the power to arrest people under the laws of the Commonwealth.


Does she mean officers employed by the town of Harvard?


Interestingly enough, police from the Town of Harvard could not in fact have arrested Kenneth Thomas in Harvard Square, because they have no jurisdiction in Cambridge and were not in active pursuit of a suspect.

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