April 22, 2024

Whole Community News

From Kalapuya lands in the Willamette watershed

UO students, leaders ask for dialog on EPD party patrol

12 min read
University of Oregon students packed the City Council chambers Monday night to ask for less party patrol and more serve and protect.

University of Oregon students packed the City Council chambers Monday night to ask for less party patrol and more serve and protect.

[00:00:09] Jack Stoutenberg: Hello. My name is Jack Stoutenberg. I’m a junior at the University of Oregon and part of the Lundquist School of Business. Many individuals I personally know feel that the police have been overly aggressive in their enforcement efforts focused on targeting illegal alcohol use, noise ordinance violations, and unruly gatherings in neighborhood areas around the university. Students I know are fearful of the individuals who are supposed to protect us from danger.

[00:00:34] During Halloween weekend, my house decided to host a social event. Around 11:30 p.m., the police showed up at my house and told us to shut down the social event. We complied and started following people out of the house. Then they asked for all residents of my house to come outside to get cited for violation that we committed. When 30 people failed to gather outside within a few minutes, the police quickly judged us as being uncooperative…

[00:00:57] Many of us didn’t even know what the situation was going on, including me. While this was happening, I was in my room and decided to leave my house to walk a friend to another friend’s house because I think the streets of Eugene are dangerous at night and not safe to be walking alone.

[00:01:10] I walked downstairs and saw a police officer standing in the doorway. I walked to the officer and asked if I could help in any way. I was asked if I lived here; in response, which I said yes, without any hesitation, I was handcuffed and put in a prisoner transport vehicle. I was not told why I was being arrested. I spent more an hour in the van, handcuffed. I was treated like a criminal, and I spent the entire night in jail over an unruly gathering that I was barely a part of. While I was in jail, at 1:47 a.m., more police showed up.

[00:01:39] Johshua Oladipo: Hello, my name is Johshua Oladipo…

1:47 (a.m.), the police showed up with a search warrant looking for stereo equipment. They came into the house, broke down nearly every door in the house, destroyed most of the locks, and pulled my friends and my friends’ roommates out of their beds in their underwears, just to zip-tie them and bring them downstairs and put them in transport vehicles.

[00:02:01] This doesn’t sound like a reasonable amount of force to use on anyone who is a college student.

[00:02:06] I am a sophomore, currently studying biochem. My course is very rigorous and what I’ve experienced these last couple of weeks has been atrocious.

[00:02:16] Not only were they looking for only stereo equipment, but they actually took my laptop. They took my laptop, they took my best friend’s laptop. I’ve called, I would say twice a day for the last two weeks, pertaining to our equipment. Not gotten a response. And so all I ask is that these things that were taken from us—so I can finish my degree and not be held here for another year— is returned to us.

[00:02:40] Gregory Racha: My name is Gregory Racha and I also live in the West University district. The police officers tried to unlawfully enter our home, which resulted in us in telling them that they couldn’t. They retrieved a warrant, which resulted in multiple broken doors my friends being pulled out of bed, some in their boxers without shirts or shoes. And my computer also being taken with my friends as well, which I haven’t gotten back. And I had to talk to my academic advisors about dropping my classes just to maintain a steady GPA…

[00:03:08] I’ve grown up in Los Angeles where I’ve dealt with over-policing my whole life, and I can tell you that targeting a specific group or neighborhood never ends well for the community and the police officers involved. Eugene PD needs to look in the mirror and ask themselves if they’re staying true to their oath to protect and serve.

[00:03:24] Julia Lo: Hi everyone. I’m Julia Lo and I also live in West University, I’m a student at the University of Oregon. As a fourth-year student, I have lived off of campus for the past three years. Granted, we have been in a pandemic for most of that. However, the police presence is markedly different from what I experienced my freshman year of college before COVID 19 began.

[00:03:44] I am really wondering, What is the impetus of this increased policing, specifically toward alcohol- and noise-related violations? What is the goal of these increased citations? And who is the governing body in charge of these decisions and how can students be involved in talking about these decisions further than this?…

[00:04:02] What would be greatly appreciated is an increased communication pathway between Eugene Police Department and University of Oregon students to actually understand what we can and can’t do as well as the gravity of the actual citations that are being handed out.

[00:04:16] Jacob Loomis: Hey, I’m Jacob Loomis. I live in the West University district and I’m also here to talk about party patrol, to speak out against it. I’ve been using publicly-available data on the EPD log, and you can see a clear and present pattern of targeting in the West Eugene neighborhood… and if we look at last year’s data, it is more spread out around the city. So it indicates that these crimes take place around the city and not just in the West Eugene neighborhood.

[00:04:48] This increase in targeting of students, it’s hard for students. It really affects them mentally, physically. I’ve seen students drop out because of police presence. And I don’t want that to happen to anybody.

[00:05:01] Finn Jacobson: My name is Finn Jacobson. I live in the West University District and I too have come here tonight to share my concerns about the efficacy of the Eugene Police Department’s party patrol, and that within our community, the institution which we look to for protection, has instead subjected students to an environment rooted in fear.

[00:05:21] In recent years, more than ever, our country has been forced, rightfully, to reconcile with the systemic failures of our policing institution and work to build a better future. This should be no exception. Everyone in this room today can agree that it is in the best interest of the community to ensure the safety of students and that use of drugs and alcohol can jeopardize that safety.

[00:05:45] But stories from peers have indicated to me that the EPD is exacerbating rather than mitigating this issue through its use of force, extensive issuing of citations, and a lack of compassion towards students who find themselves in the wrong place at the wrong time.

[00:06:00] Like a shadow, stories are looming over our campus of students too scared to call 911 in moments of crisis, and it is sickening.

[00:06:11] John Q: Several student government leaders spoke, including the student body president.

[00:06:15] Luda Isakharov: My name is Luda Isakharov and I’m the student body president at the University of Oregon…

[00:06:19] I did not expect so soon into my first glimpses of the traditional college experience, I would have to be so afraid of being a college student. Seeing cops stopping every single student they see on corners, in many cases, escalating situations and getting violent and handing out 60 to 70 citations per weekend has become terrifying for me and other people here.

[00:06:42] I’ve always been afraid to walk alone at night in Eugene, as a female. But now I’m more afraid after personally seeing eight officers surround one girl that was walking by herself and seeing videos of girls getting shoved to the ground.

[00:06:57] And what I’m most terrified is my peers and my friends have now started expressing to me that they don’t feel comfortable calling 911 when they’re hosting parties in cases of emergencies and feel like they need to handle emergency situations by themselves out of fear of having to engage with law enforcement.

[00:07:13] This is terrifying.

[00:07:15] …We have educated students on how to be good neighbors. We have trained leaders in Greek life on how to have positive and respectful interactions with law enforcement and knowing their rights. And we have sat down with the chief of EPD and leaders of UOPD on finding solutions to this issue.

[00:07:30] And every weekend it feels like things are getting worse and the violence is escalating.

[00:07:34] Meghan Turley: My name is Meghan Turley, a member of the University of Oregon’s student government.

[00:07:38] The current relationship between students and EPD officers is setting a harmful precedent of continually escalating behavior and subsequently causing many students to no longer view the police as a legitimate body for public safety.

[00:07:49] For weeks, I’ve seen video after video of my peers being pushed to the ground, thrown against vehicles, and screamed at while receiving citations for open containers or minor in possession. This all occurs during EPD’s party patrol, which predominantly happens within the West University neighborhood on the evenings of Friday, Saturday, and occasionally Thursday nights.

[00:08:06] The high volume of citations and the increased use of force over the last few weeks are beginning to seem more like a way to collect money and establish power rather than something meant to address legitimate problems of safety concerns…

[00:08:17] We’ve seen alternative solutions to address shared concerns at the University of Colorado where students register a party ahead of time with the local officers… Other alternatives to party patrol should be made available to students and taken into consideration in a community deliberation. The way forward is going to require genuine and good-faith efforts from all relevant stakeholders to do this smarter, and get it right.

[00:08:38] Macy Patel: My name is Macy Patel and I’m a junior at the University of Oregon. I’m also a part of the Associated Students of UO.

[00:08:46] I am so incredibly disappointed to hear week after week stories from my peers about their negative experiences with the Eugene Police Department. I have heard multiple stories from young women experiencing the Eugene Police Department using physical force and even harassment while issuing citations. We are also seeing aggression and force by Eugene Police Department officers towards bystanders and students attempting to exercise their rights.

[00:09:13] It is extremely inappropriate and unnecessary for four or five male cops to be issuing a citation to one or two college-aged women, often with force and very little explanation. This use of force is disgraceful, excessive, and unnecessary.

[00:09:32] The Eugene Police Department party patrol program has widely delegitimized the police amongst students and is resulting in the loss of trust in the police department that is supposed to be protecting us. We as students, urge you to assess the effectiveness of this program and the recent actions of the Eugene Police Department.

[00:09:50] John Q: The party patrols are affecting local musicians who play at the house events.

[00:09:55] Claudia Santino: My name is Claudia Santino and I’m currently a junior at the University of Oregon.

[00:10:00] Over the past few years, this campus has had a very rich history of a DIY music scene, and it’s been a chance for students and non-students alike to experience live music and giving a chance for people to connect.

[00:10:12] Over the past six months, the overwhelming rise in police presence on campus and especially in this music scene, has affected many of us detrimentally.

[00:10:21] I can speak to this myself because I perform in a band in the Eugene area. And we have performed multiple times both on South and West Campus. Spring show, we had a police occurrence that occurred right around 8:00. And we did know that there was a noise ordinance, and that takes place from 10 p.m. to 7 a.m., so we weren’t breaking that in any way.

[00:10:43] And as we were aware of this ordinance, we thought we had planned accordingly and wouldn’t be bothering anybody. But that obviously was not the case. They immediately shut things down and it was closed early with no reason. And one of the only established DIY venues, per se, in the area (the Blue Dragon) was also shut down after being given numerous tickets and citations.

[00:11:06] Ian Mohr: My name is Ian Mohr and I’m a sophomore at U of O. I just want to share a little personal anecdote. Last year I went to a house show held in someone’s backyard. I think three bands were playing. It was pretty good, pretty fun. We all were having a pretty good time.

[00:11:20] Out of nowhere, six police cars showed up, including a prisoner transport van and immediately cleared out the area. To have these events happen is takes a lot of time and effort on the part of local musicians who like to share their music and just let people have a good time by going to their shows.

[00:11:40] But the extreme police presence has made it hard for a lot of these musicians to feel comfortable actually hosting these shows. It leads to a lack of artistic talent and opportunities for people to enjoy live music in Eugene, which I think is a great part of the college experience, not just for students, but also for the community as a whole, to be able to see this artistic work.

[00:12:05] And I think that the police really should just step back, take a step back.

[00:12:09] John Q: Jefferson Westside residents asked for better emergency response.

[00:12:12] Keli Schunk: Hi, my name’s Keli Schunk. I live in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood. Couldn’t ask for a better segue with all of the students. I’m sorry to hear of what they’re dealing with. We have the opposite. We’re being held hostage in our homes. We’re getting 46-minute police response times, 58 minutes, and this is with people threatening our lives 20 feet from our doors. We’re getting no help. We’re not getting help from animal control with dogs running in our yards. Pit bulls being sicced on us by people living on the street between our homes. They’ve threatened to kill all of us. They know where we live. They’re trying my back doorknob every night. I’m getting no help. We’re talking months of no help. And so that’s why we’re (here) and my neighbors are here…

[00:13:04] So, sounds like a lot of the cops are at the university. Get ’em out of the university, get the cops into places that need help. They don’t need to be breaking down alcohol parties.

[00:13:15] This is escalating. We’re getting no help. Send the freaking cops to us.

[00:13:21] Bill Armstrong: Hi, I’m Bill Armstrong and I wanted to talk to you about increasing levels of drug dealing and drug use in the Salvation Army parking lot in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood.

[00:13:33] Gangs of drug dealers occupy the lot day and night. Drug dealers or users drive in or walk into the lot, and they’re approached by multiple dealers. Frequently users park their cars and shoot up on the spot and then drive away. I’ve picked up garbage in the lot in the morning and it’s littered with needles and strips of foil.

[00:13:54] I’ve called the police to report the drug activity dozens of times with little or no response.

[00:14:00] This Saturday afternoon, a drug dealer who was living in an RV parked on our street started screaming at my wife. I came out of the house and he threatened to kill me. He used those words, ‘I’m gonna kill you.’

[00:14:13] I called 911. Then the man walked away and 15 minutes went by and the police still hadn’t arrived. And the man came back and he stood on the street and he said, he’s screaming that, ‘I’m coming for you.’

[00:14:30] Then 46 minutes after my first call, the police showed up and told me that there was nothing they could do. This was despite the drug dealer stood in there, right behind them, screaming.

[00:14:42] We’re used to a slow response from police in the Jefferson Westside neighborhood, but 46 minutes to respond to an emergency call is ridiculous.

[00:14:53] I’ve gathered with neighbors and they don’t know what to do because the police don’t respond to them either.

[00:15:00] City of Eugene: Next we will hear from Mat Beecher.

[00:15:02] Mat Beecher: I am a 15-year resident of Ward 8. I’m calling because of a recurring challenge we have with the houseless population living in a forest behind my home.

[00:15:12] I have experienced drug dealing, violence, gunshots, knives, fighting, sexual activity just beyond my fence and my backyard, to the point where I will not let my children go outside in their own yard to play.

[00:15:26] There’s 12 illegal campsites currently. The fires, the violence, the defecation is—it’s overwhelming.

[00:15:34] I can’t walk down the bike path. My wife can’t walk down the bike path. Nobody in this neighborhood wants to walk down our bike path because of the people who are occupying this forest and are causing so much trouble.

[00:15:49] Let my children and the children in this neighborhood feel safe when they go outside to play.

[00:15:54] Don’t send the cops to the students on campus. Leave the students alone.

[00:15:59] Send the cops to the people who need them. Send them to your taxpaying citizens who have been here for 15 years who want to be safe, who want our children to play outside and use our parks.

[00:16:10] John Q: After public comment Nov. 14, Mayor Lucy Vinis said that she will meet with student leaders.

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