The police report filed for the arrest of four undergraduates last Thursday for their protest during a speech at the Institute of Politics (IOP) has been found to contain several errors, including misquoting the students and inaccurately representing the order of events, according to video footage of the incident.
The Harvard University Police Department, which arrested the protestors, declined to comment in response to the findings.
Kelly L. Lee ’07, Michael A. Gould-Wartofsky ’07, Maura A. Roosevelt ’07 and J. Claire Provost ’07 had planned a coordinated protest in which each would consecutively interrupt the speaker, FBI Director Robert S. Mueller III, by yelling specific complaints from the audience.
According to the police report, obtained by The Crimson from the Cambridge District Courthouse yesterday, “All of the individuals were yelling ‘the FBI are murderers’ and ‘the FBI equals terrorism.’ They were all yelling other slogans as well but kept repeating the two aforementioned phrases the most.”
However, video footage from the event—available online
on the IOP’s Web site—shows that neither of these phrases was ever uttered by the protesters.
Instead, protesters yelled a series of statements that the students said were carefully planned out and meant to be targeted towards specific issues.
Among the statements yelled by the protesters at the speech were: “We will never forget the state terror waged by the FBI against peaceful political dissidents. We will never forget the FBI’s role in McCarthyism,” “Stop the Green scare, stop the unconstitutional repression of environmental activists,” “Free the Panther Eight. Justice for Herman Bell,” and “Close Guantanamo. End the lies, end the secrets.”
Provost said that blanket statements were specifically avoided during the protest.
“There is very little a 21-year-old can do to protest the FBI,” she said yesterday. “This is one of the only opportunities I feel like I had to publicly express my dissent. So there is no way I would have used that one opportunity to say the FBI are murderers.”
The four students were charged with disturbing a public assembly, and are scheduled for a pretrial hearing on May 10. If convicted, they face up to a month in prison and up to a $50 fine.
Among the errors found in the report, the order in which the protestors shouted and were subsequently removed was incorrect. The report states that Lee, Gould-Wartofsky, Roosevelt then Provost were removed in that order. However, Roosevelt was the last taken out and Provost was directly before her.
Provost said that the police report exaggerated her shouting and said that she did not continue to yell while being physically escorted from the building, as the report indicated.
“The report seems to try to make us sound like very irrational, overzealous protestors,” she said.
Officer Daniel Twomey filed the report last Thursday.
Lee said she was “shocked and upset” over the discrepancies in the police report.
“Those discrepancies make it seem like we were resisting the officers when we were in total compliance with the rules of the University and the demands of the officers,” she said.
Gould-Wartofsky and Provost have served as members of the Crimson staff. Provost wrote her last news article in May 2004 and Gould-Wartofsky is a former editorial columnist.
As far as University disciplinary action, none of the students have been contacted about appearing before the Ad Board, the College’s disciplinary panel. However, last week, The Boston Globe quoted University spokesman Joseph Wrinn as saying that the four students could face disciplinary sanctions.
John L. Ellison, secretary of the administrative board, declined to comment.