Cash for those we violate…

When reading of the recent cash settlement rewarded to the two students whose first amendment rights were violated (UVM Tacitly admits this by way of the $7,500 settlement) during this spring’s 4/20 protest I was surprised by the following two quotes, taken from the Burlington Free Press: – “We’re looking at this carefully, but I feel confident my staff did the right thing at the right time,” [UVM Police Chief Gary] Margolis said. – “We maintain that we acted appropriately at the time,” said UVM spokesman Enrique Corredera. “Our goal then first and foremost was to ensure the safety of our students and to maintain law and order, and we believe we did that very effectively. As we move forward, we are determined to continue to pursue that goal…” As a student at the University these statements not only alarmed me, but I felt the need to transcribe them here so others in the University can appreciate the willingness that the police who protect us and our representatives/spokespeople have to support those (police) who violate the students’ First Amendment (or any other amendment) rights. The purpose of the First Amendment is not to pay off citizens after preventing them from voicing their opinion or dissenting – rather it is to insure their safety and wellbeing while taking advantage of these rights. I would encourage Mr. Enrique Corredera to make sure that his “first and foremost” goal is “to ensure the safety of our students and to maintain law and order” (Which is his stated, but obviously not intended, goal). If first amendment rights are lawfully enforced we would not have a situation here. The contradiction occurs when he insinuates that the police were obeying the law by stating his determination to “continue to pursue this goal”. If our goal is lawfulness we must not continue on the same path. Obviously the police must change their ways in order to insure that students’ rights are not violated in this manner again. I am also alarmed that some of the tuition I am paying to the University is nonetheless being paid to other students in order to appease them after being violated in the above manner. I feel that the recent expulsions were a harsh penalty for burning a Yankees hat in celebration. This extreme penalty was probably intended to vilify the hat-burners and overshadow the fact that the police also acted ineptly when attempting to control the rioters and resorted to potentially lethal force without need. At this rate I am looking forward to being arrested for writing this letter (and maybe shot randomly with a pepper bullet). Maybe Chief Margolis will let this one slip for safety’s sake. Although with Mr. Corredera on the spin I bet they could get away with it.-Clyde Dunton-Gallagher (Class of ’05)