Monday, May 15, 2006

Watching The Watchers?

Video via Fox News. It appears that some students at SUNY New Paltz want to form a student militia. Of course the campus police are horrified.

The Times Herald-Record which covers New York's Hudson Valley posts two recent stories concerning the plan. From the May 4 edition: "The students cite years of general abuse by administrators, campus and local police toward students - including profiling and illegal searches - to justify their support of and participation in the militia, which, they say, already has 21 members and is just getting started. 'I don't advocate violence, but I do advocate students' rights,' said departing Student Association President R.J. Partington, who characterized himself as a 'near-pacifist.' 'But on a campus where certain people called 'police officers' can have guns and weapons, students should be afforded the same rights,' he said. A student militia would act as a 24-7 'watchdog group' to guard against police abuses, the student leaders say. Cameras, rather than shotguns, would be the principle weapons, they say."

Of course the "powers that be" can't let that go unchallenged. "SUNY New Paltz officials and campus police Chief Ray Bryant have said that both campus regulations and state law prohibit possession of firearms on campus. 'Rest assured,' Bryant said, 'these regulations will be enforced to protect the well-being of the campus community.'" Unless of course "protecting the well-being of the campus community" means covering up possible illegal actions by those who are allowed guns on campus. Now, it isn't clearly stated what the anti-student actions have been. Although in a story dated May 10, Chief Bryant gives an indication. "Bryant noted that students have complained about police harassment, but have been unable to cite specific examples of abuse. He contends the students are most upset about police enforcement of drug laws, most of them relating to the use of marijuana. Campus police have lately paid more attention to marijuana violations than in the past - there were 52 arrests in 2005, compared with 12 in 2004. Do those increased numbers reflect a greater degree of repressive activity on the part of police? Hardly, said Bryant."

Bryant is correct in that assertion. Enforcing laws isn't repression. But it seems highly unlikely that people are just concerned with their stash being confiscated. The whole story isn't available, but unless the students organizing the militia have been arrested for drug possession, Bryant's claim that increasing enforcement of marijuana laws seems to be put out to marginalize the students as some kind of dopers who are only concerned about losing their drugs.

Considering that New Paltz has been characterized as a hippie haven, it boggles the mind that "'...the majority of complaints we get that result in arrests come from their fellow students,' Bryant said." Dopers turning in dopers?! Doesn't seem logical does it? But then again, there's always someone to back up the police claim. "Lynne Walsh, a junior at the college, echoed many of Bryant's assertions yesterday, saying 'a majority of students here just think it's a really dumb idea.' If it's all about a handful of students who just want to get publicity, why treat the calls for a militia seriously? 'Because, unfortunately, it can draw individuals - fanatical individuals. I'm taking it very seriously.'" There you have it. These people are fanatics. They must be quaking in fear at New Paltz. Guns in the hands of those who aren't experts are dangerous. The thought may spread to other places.

Places like SUNY Potsdam. Newswatch 50 in Watertown New York fears that happening. "Deidre Kelly, SUNY Potsdam's Acting Director of Public Affairs said she spent the day fielding calls about the militia proposal." And apparently not liking it either. Kelly believes that unarmed patrols would be fine, but guns are dangerous things and regular people can't be trusted to use them. "'So it's always best to keep firearms in the hands of professionals who are trained to use them,' Kelly said." Like this guy....

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