City Police Moved Through Yard During August 5 Incident
About 60 Cambridge police used Harvard Yard to outflank youths gathered on the Cambridge Common the night of August 5.
Robert Tonis, chief of University Police, said today the Cambridge police "went through the fire gate [near Memorial Church] by cutting a lock" to enter the Yard.
They marched through the Yard to between Massachusetts and Harvard Halls, where a University police sergeant unchained the gate to allow them to leave.
The police then poured out into Massachusetts Ave. and toward the Common, firing large amounts of tear gas.
One youth in the Common at the time said the police "came out of nowhere."
Tonis said the Cambridge police "felt it was a necessary tactical movement to prevent injury to the men." The police said youths on the Common had gathered rocks to attack an expected police charge across the overpass north of the Yard. The march through the Yard outflanked that alleged threat.
Tonis said Cambridge officials had warned University police in advance that they would move police through the Yard "only if necessary," and they moved into the Yard without further notification.
Tonis said police also marched through the Yard the night of July 25, when youths gathered in the Common to celebrate the Cuban Revolution and then rampaged through the Square breaking windows.
In the August 5 incident, about 100 youths had gathered on the Common for a "block party" called by anonymous
leaflets which urged trashing. They stayed on the Common after the curfew hour here and then ignored an emergency 11 p. m. citywide curfew.
Police then charged out of the Yard to drive them away. Although large amounts of tear gas were fired, there were no reported injuries. Police advanced slowly, giving the youths a chance to escape.
The incident attracted little attention when it occurred. A visiting professor at the Summer School. Edgar Z. Friedenberg, wrote the CRIMSON and Thomas E. Crooks, director of the Summer School, to complain to them of the incident.
Friedenberg, a professor at State University of New York at Buffalo, said the police tactic must have seemed to the youths "an ambush from within the University."
He said the particularly objected to the use of "presumably neutral territory as a privileged sanctuary from which to launch attacks."
But Tonis noted yesterday that the University has no legal status as a sanctuary, Police sometimes even pass through churches in the process of making arrests, he said.
Summer School director Crooks said he felt the incident was "obnoxious."
Several University officials expressed fear that if police moved through the Yard during regular term-time students would be enraged. Archibald Cox, a professor of Law and the University's chief demonstrations troubleshooter, reportedly was opposed to the police action.
But University officials believe police have a legal right to pass through the Yard and fear that similar incidents will occur in the future.
Cambridge Police Chief James Reagan refused to comment.