Sunday, February 17, 2013

Eugene Police Create and Escalate Conflict, Raid House

At 3 A.M. on Friday night, nine police cars, including one ‘Prisoner Transport Van,’ blocked Alder Street between 16th and 17th.  A police line stretched across the street and across the length of the Campbell Club house on the other side of the street. Not even a few hours earlier, the Campbell Club had been bumping their usual beats, hosting a benefit show for a new student group on campus.  However, after hours of continued escalation by the Eugene Police Department, the house had been raided by the police — doors kicked in, residents taken to jail, and community members shaken by the five-hour long incident.  23 were arrested, with 14 taken to jail for the morning.  

 From the beginning of the night, the EPD actively escalated the situation — transforming what could have been the issuing of a warning or citation for an alleged noise violation, into a warranted raid of the house. Upon an alleged altercation with someone on the front porch, an officer called for backup. While many were able to leave the party before cops trapped residents and party-goers inside, other party-goers were unable to leave for several hours due to EPD’s persistence to enter through any crack of the door.  Any resident who stepped outside to speak to the police was arrested and taken into custody.

Residents of the Campbell Club repeatedly invoked their fourth amendment right — protection from unreasonable search and seizure, requiring the police to have a warrant before entering a home without consent, and their fifth amendment right — the right to remain silent. Several residents had ‘Know Your Rights’ training, and were familiar with police interactions, including the lies and force that can be legally used to coerce cooperation.  

On the street, community members videotaped police interactions and documented officer and car numbers.  This is a practice called ‘CopWatch,’ and it is a powerful tool in holding the police accountable to the community. While police tried to quarantine the area in order to disrupt the documentation of their actions and to move supportive community members further away from the house, those on the outside also asserted their rights to film and be on public property.

Late into the night, police obtained a warrant to search for ‘sound equipment.’ The search, which could have begun and ended in the living room where the criminal equipment was quietly sitting, instead went through every room and to the roof, breaking down individuals’ doors and waking sleeping residents.  It is unclear if the search of individuals’ rooms was warranted.

Door of Campbell Club resident smashed in by police
Wall torn by Eugene Police Department

Door Broken by EPD

Police are now saying that they would have liked to use the Social Host Ordinance, which goes into effect in April, against the Campbell Club. “This is kind of a prime example of why that ordinance is going to be enforced,” said Sgt. David Natt. The Social Host Ordinance can lead to fines of up to $1,000 per person, as well as response costs. Had the Social Host Ordinance been in effect, it could have been on the Campbell Club’s tab to pay for the police response of between 10 and 14 patrol units for a five-hour period.

This enforcement, however, has nothing to do with keeping students — or anyone else — safe. With increasing legal force and firepower around the UO campus and Eugene, students and others in the campus area are forced into a compromising and untrusting relationship with police. Students may assert their rights, but Eugene Police have made it clear that their homes and bodies will not be respected — even if they have to get a warrant to prove it.