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Commentary :: Education : Human Rights
Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
05 Feb 2005
On the eve of the Super Bowl, we as Boston area students call on Mayor Menino to publicly assert the need for Boston Police to protect the health and welfare of anyone who wishes to celebrate a New England Patriots victory in the streets of Boston. Bostonians have been gravely harmed by the police responses to public gatherings of sports fans, and the city must reverse course immediately.

Students, who comprise a major part of the Boston area community, remain outraged at their official portrayal as "hooligans" and "thugs" somehow responsible for the death of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove. The fact remains that this student was killed by an unjustified police action against a non-violent person. Nevertheless, Mayor Menino continues to scapegoat students, portraying them as violence prone and irresponsible.
040611tom_menino.jpg
Boston Area Students Respond to Mayor Menino’s “Zero-Tolerance” Threats

Statement:

On the eve of the Super Bowl, we as Boston area students call on Mayor Menino to publicly assert the need for Boston Police to protect the health and welfare of anyone who wishes to celebrate a New England Patriots victory in the streets of Boston. Bostonians have been gravely harmed by the police responses to public gatherings of sports fans, and the city must reverse course immediately.

Students, who comprise a major part of the Boston area community, remain outraged at their official portrayal as "hooligans" and "thugs" somehow responsible for the death of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove. The fact remains that this student was killed by an unjustified police action against a non-violent person. Nevertheless, Mayor Menino continues to scapegoat students, portraying them as violence prone and irresponsible.

Mayor Menino has advocated a “zero-tolerance” policy, warning our schools that "if they don't want to take consequences against their students, we'll find ways we can take consequences against the students." In striking contrast, Mayor Menino has not yet placed any responsibility for Snelgrove's death at the foot of those who killed her.

We represent Boston area students who object to this implicit threat which ignores the facts of the Snelgrove case, and absolves the police of any accountability regarding the misuse of force against non-violent public gatherings. In fact, it was the Boston Police who killed Snelgrove last fall by irresponsibly firing potentially lethal weapons at non-threatening bystanders in the Fenway. Boston Police never should have used the "less-lethal" guns with pepper pellets as a means for "crowd control" during the public celebration of a Red Sox pennant victory over the Yankees.

Menino's recent threats against students cannot detract from the fact that Boston Police have already killed one innocent person. We, the undersigned Boston area students, vow to hold Mayor Menino accountable for any injuries that result from the police's use of force - in particular, any involving "less-lethal" weapons - against non-violent Super Bowl celebrants this Sunday.

Signed,

- Boston College, the Global Justice Project
- New England School of Law, Student Chaper of the National Lawyers Guild
- Harvard University, Harvard Social Forum
- Harvard University, Harvard Progressive Advocacy Group
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Free Radicals
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Social Justice Cooperative
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, the Thistle Alternative News Collective
- New England School of Law, Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
- Northeastern University School of Law, Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
- Northeastern University School of Law, Anti-War Society
- Suffolk University Law School, Student Chapter of the National Lawyers Guild
- Suffolk University Law School, Liberal Circle

This work is in the public domain.
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um...
05 Feb 2005
there's just one problem... if cops don't have "less-lethal" weapons, they will only have MORE lethal weapons and nothing else to fall back on.

the problem is police themselves, not their weapons. getting maced sucks but i'm glad that when i go to a protest in the united states i may have to worry about that, but not about getting shot at with live ammo. this aint iraq or palestine.
Re: Um
05 Feb 2005
why should the police officers dealing with public gathering have weapons at first place!
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
05 Feb 2005
the real problem is the misuse of the "less-lethal" weapons. if the police used them only when trying to AVOID using lethal weapons that would be a start. but because they are considered non-lethal the weapons are used far too readily to resolve non-violent situations... just look at the problems with tasers in Florida.
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
05 Feb 2005
"when i go to a protest in the united states i may have to worry about that, but not about getting shot at with live ammo"

enjoy it while it lasts, because there's a real possibility of that changing. There is already a precedent. Remember the events at Kent State on May 4th, 1970? Four innocent protesters (students) were shot down by National Guardsmen. It can and probably will happen again before too long. And then the Revolution (better) commence.

As dissidents, our lives ARE potentially in jeopardy. And now with the so-called Patriot Act 1 and 2.
The Mathematics of Protest
06 Feb 2005
Yes. Four protesters were killed at Kent State in 1970. But this is 2005, which means that three and one half decades have transpired since then.

3 student killings every 35 years = .09 students killed per year. Given that the overall number of students in college is astronomical, college students can expect to continue being violence prone hooligans without having to worry about being killed, or resorting to inflation and mass hysteria.
Sports fans are no better than cops
06 Feb 2005
Drunk sports fans often act like complete assholes. Just last year some guy rammed through a crowd with his SUV, crushing an innocent bystander. Why haven't the persons who signed on to this petition at least offered the community one alternative method of controling the drunk and viloent people who ruin everyone else's time?
If you are going to complain, you need to have at least one altenative suggestion.
Don't Be Morons
07 Feb 2005
Don't be morons and you won't have to worry. You have no right to riot.
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
07 Feb 2005
Victoria Snelgrove wasn't rioting when the police killed her. She was among a group of people who were celebrating in a peaceful, reasonably restrained fashion. Something (I think a single, thrown bottle, not aimed at anyone) set one of the cops off and they completely over-reacted, killing her and seriously injuring one other person.

I don't have much sympathy for people who riot after a football game (or a baseball game or any other sort of game for that matter). Their behavior is a serious problem, endangering other people's lives--like the kid who got killed by the SUV driver. But the cops' behavior is also a serious problem. The likelihood of a post-game riot doesn't make me feel safe, but neither do a bunch of trigger happy cops.

The real problem here is not specifically the rioting sports fans or the rioting cops--they're symptoms of a bigger problem, a society where too many people are all too easily inclined towards violence, from the president on down.
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
07 Feb 2005
It's a shame that girl was killed during the chaos of the Red Sox games, but the truth is that these kids out there hooting, hollering, tipping cars over, throwing things through windows, and lighting fires in the street is completely different from what happened 30 years ago at Kent State. These sports riots are despicable and the cops yelling "Stop" are not going to prevent people from scaling the walls of Fenway and causing extensive property damage and probably a great deal of bodily harm. It's a problem with no easy solution and it's wrong to place the blame solely on the police.

"Students, who comprise a major part of the Boston area community, remain outraged at their official portrayal as "hooligans" and "thugs" somehow responsible for the death of Emerson College student Victoria Snelgrove."

The people out there rioting and trashing the city are exhibiting the behavior of hooligans and thugs. I don't think it's misplaced to call them out. And honestly, some areas in Boston are becoming uninhabitible for anyone who's not a student interested in drinking all night and yelling in the streets while tipping over newspaper dispensers.
It's important to start with the known facts of the case...
07 Feb 2005
It's great people are debating this important issue. Here are a some known facts that might clarify things a bit more...

1) <b> Victoria Snelgrove's death has nothing to do with "rioting" </b>. According to the known facts of the case, the police did not shoot her for engaging in any of the "riot" situations mentioned above, but in a mistaken ‘accident’ where an officer was handed an FN303 rifle by his commander, and ordered to fire into a crowd. Now, if someone wants to argue that 'other people around her' must have been doing something, then they are clearly supporting the argument that police should be banned from using weapons that are known to be <i>inaccurate </i>against crowds, such as the fatal FN303 “pepper ball” rifle(and any other less lethal firearms that have round ammo – which is actually all of them).

2) <b> Despite the urban myth, no cars were tipped over at the Fenway</b>. That's just a factual error. The "riot situations" that caused police to deploy their weapons at the Fenway were people breaking a sign, climbing street lamps and a guy scaling the Green Monster. Just think about it rationally, how does shooting a person who is climbing a streetlamp "ensure their safety”? While the behavior was certainly rowdy, firearms were the wrong response.

3) <b>Less Lethal Weapons are incredibly bad for crowd control</b> as they induce panic and confusion in crowds, not calm and order. For example, tear gas, the most common weapon, makes people run while at the same time making it harder for them to see or hear (much less obey police orders). Does that make any sense? These weapons are exactly the wrong approach for crowd control, unless the meaning of ‘control’ is to project police power instead of promote public safety.

4) <b>"Less Lethal" weapons are still “lethal”</b>. They kill. Therefore (and this is obvious) <i>they should ONLY be used in situations where the use of lethal force is justified</i>. This means ONLY when human life is endangered, and can be saved by the use of the weapon. Period. That’s a clear, logical moral standard. Nothing that happened at the Fenway was even <i>close</i> to meeting that standard. That was an obvious use of excessive force, with tragic results.

5) <b>There is no doubt that her death was unintended, but it is hard to claim it was “an accident”</b>. When you arm an officer with a deadly weapon and then order him to shoot it into a dense crowd of people, then aren't you clearly playing roulette with innocent people’s lives? It’s like pushing someone off a building and then saying they hit the ground “by accident”. Her death is what we would call a “predictable outcome” of bad choices. Like drinking, and then driving, and then getting into "an accident". It seems like cops, unlike you or I, cannot be held responsible for involuntary manslaughter.

Finally, saying that critics “need an alternative suggestion” is a weak argument. Does anyone really need to come up with “alternative suggestion” to using excessive force, or to using deadly weapons against a crowd when the situation is not life threatening?

It's pretty clear what the alternative is:

D O N’ T U S E T H E M.

The one unavoidable fact is this: If the police did <i>not</i> use their weapons that night at the Fenway, they would have saved a young girls life.
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
07 Feb 2005
Interesting stuff, for those of you looking for more info about this stuff, you might wanna check out

http://www.nolesslethal.org


.
Victoria was Killed by her Fellow Students
08 Feb 2005
Victoria Snelgrove's death was a direct result of those irresponsible adolescents who were in the process of rioting, harassing police horses and destroying public and private property. Victoria Snelgrove's blood is on the hands of all of you who were rioting and generally acting like Morons. You are nothing more than criminals.
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
09 Feb 2005
in case you missed this, the police who shot her and other members in the crowd had not been trained on how to use these weapons... what the fuck were they thinking!
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
08 Feb 2006
Lol that is whack
Re: Boston Students Challenge Mayor on Police Violence, Less Lethal Weapons
08 Feb 2006
I was always taught/trained/educated that all less-than-lethal devices CAN be lethal - so be wary! First thing any instructor ever said (military or civilian). Those that carry them know that.

N wrote "why should the police officers dealing with public gathering have weapons at first place!"

That is pricless! Stupid yet priceless! "Public gathering" is a nice way of saying mob, riot, drunk and drug induced idiots and so on. Public gathering! Priceless!

Some other factual data mixed in with some nonsense.
Bottom line is we lost a attractive and intelligent young woman that night. EVERYONE is to blame.
beach
03 Jun 2006
Nice site... Cool guestbook...