Thursday, December 13, 2012

Taking No Chances

 Lt. Ron Young (center) APD head of Detectives questions young man (seated) in custody

Sad update (Friday afternoon):  Amherst School Superintendent Maria Geryk's statement on today's tragedy

Gov Patrick has ordered flags lowered to half-staff until 12/18/12 as a mark of respect for the victims of the senseless acts of violence perpetrated in Newtown.

When a PVTA bus rider called 911 around 2:20 Thursday afternoon to report a man perched on a high roof of Phi Sigma Kappa fraternity with a gun, in the very heart of UMass/Amherst, police took no chances, descending on the scene in force along with UMPD.

An arrest was quickly made and the young man transported to Amherst Police Department headquarters.  According to Captain Jennifer Gundersen, the gun was a BB gun.

William C. Lewis, of 4760 Doylestown, Penn., was charged with disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon while committing a breach of peace.


Anonymous said...

Man with a gun.. and you run to the scene. Wicked Smhart hey

Larry Kelley said...

Actually ... I drove.

Anonymous said...

documenting police brutality?

Larry Kelley said...

Did not see any. And I always report what I see.

Anonymous said...

This is a boring conversation. (Just reporting what I see).

Larry Kelley said...

I didn't start it.

Anonymous said...

Larry, you should have a huge message pop up when people start to comment on your blog..."Reading this blog is voluntary, if you don't like it, don't read it".

Anonymous said...

I'm sure Larry would agree with you, Anon 6:24. The fewer people reading this blog the better! The fewer people commenting on this blog the better!

Anonymous said...

The amount of carping about the content of this blog appears to be directly proportional to our dependency on it to get the local news.

Larry Kelley said...

Thanks for the comment (I think).

Larry Kelley said...

Sorry 9:14 AM, that was meant for 9:13.

Yeah, notice today's Gazette kind of missed this story.

Anonymous said...

Have you seen the Home Depot Christmas Tree (displayed solely for the residents of Elaine Care)

It's a heartwarming holiday story that needs to go viral.

(The Gazette having the story available only to subscribers is a shame)

Dr. Ed said...

Exactly why was he arrested, and for exactly what violation of the criminal code?

In it's infinite wisdom, when the Great & General Court rewrote the gun control laws back in the '90s, they exempted BB guns. It is not illegal for someone, at least someone over 18, to have one -- and hence having one is not a crime.

It may be rather stupid to go up onto that roof, but it could be equally stupid for Larry to go up onto his roof. A free society doesn't have laws against being stupid and doing things that might harm yourself.

If he was a brother of that frat, depending on how the building is owned, he either is a co-owner with every bit as much right as any homneowner to go up on the roof of a building he owns, or a leaseee where at most it is a lease violation, a civil matter with the landlord.

It's not trespass if you have a right to be in the building. And if you are lawfully residing there, you have a right to be there.

Yes, the APD has "probable cause" to investigate the report of a man with a gun, but once they determine that it is a BB gun and not a firearm, I would like to know what lawful authority they had to take it away from him or make him get off the roof, let alone arrest him.

I will grant good intent to the APD. I will concede that they probably have seen enough people die in enough stupid things and helped pick up enough body parts to want to prevent more of it. But that is not grounds for arresting someone, not in a free society.

I would have no problem with them expressing concerns for his wellbeing and stating their opinions as to the stupidity of him being up there. I would have no problem with them going so far as to ask for the name and contact information of his next-of-kin so "we will known who to send down to the morgue to claim your body."

Or my favorite line: "you do realize that is a damn good way to wind up in a body bag, don't you?" -- highly effective with young ladies whose visceral reaction is to how it would mess up their hair, which says something about the perceived immortality of youth.

And it is actually neurological -- the human brain isn't fully developed until the age of 26 or so, with the parts that involve judgment and evaluation of risk not yet really there yet 18-22 year-olds, which is exactly why they tend to do so many dangerous things, but I digress.

Again, I will grant the APD good intent and legitimate concerns for his wellbeing, but unless we live in the ultimate nanny state where they can arrest people for not wearing their mittens or not eating their Broccoli.

To the officers of the APD & AFD (and UMPD), I ask but three questions: (1) Is your weight, blood pressure and bloodwork (lipids, etc) where your doctor would like to see them at? (2) If not, do you have any problem with being locked up for your own wellbeing so as to get the numbers there? And as we all know that high blood pressure and the rest will kill you, (3) exactly how is it any different in being arrested "for your own good" in this situation any less justified than in any other?

Anonymous said...

Oh ED, shut the hell up you over educated idiot!

Larry Kelley said...

Now, now.

Dr. Ed said...

Part 1 of 2

Two other things -- and one of the many reasons why I say Amherst is populated by fascist leftists and not "liberals" is that I have to mention both.

First, John Locke wrote that every human is granted certain rights from God and that only God has the right to take them away or restrict them -- that no King had the right to do so. He summarized his "natural rights" as being "the right to your life, liberty and property."

Because this was in the era of property requirements for voting and hence "property" having two meanings then as "man" has two meanings now, Jefferson changed "property" to "pursuit of happiness" for the same reason that I have changed "man" to "human."

These "human rights" -- and both the Nuremburg trials and all subsequent concepts of "crimes against humanity" evolve from this concept -- apply equally to all human beings. Poor as well as rich, female as well as male, and regardless of race/creed.color and the like.

The problem with abortion is that if one believes the fetus to be a human being, then the state has a duty to protect the life and liberty of the fetus. And if a fetus is not a human being, then any restriction on abortion is a violation of the woman's God-given rights to the control of her own body.

The government has the right (and duty) to exercise its lawful use of force to prevent one from harming another -- but not from harming ourselves. This is what is in defense of all the gay rights laws -- that this is a free country and that adults have the right to do things that others may find, frankly, reprehensible. This is what is behind the concept of religious tolerance and religious freedom -- and at one point in Massachusetts, you would be arrested for not going to church.

Massachusetts still has a blasphemy statute on the books, people would be put in jail for what we now absolutely consider to be free speech, and this was for "their own good" -- to save their immortal souls.

We now believe that "this is a free country" and hence that you have your own choices regarding your immortal soul.

I thus have a problem with the increasing UMass practice of having the UMPD/APD/HPD arresting students and carting them off to the psych ward "for their own good."

Exactly what part of a students own life or liberty does a student not own? And under the "human rights" theory, if a student wants to harm himself or herself, exactly what right does the government have to use force to stop them?

Does the government have the right to go into ones bedroom and tell people what they can and can not do -- even if it arguably would be for their own good? Should we have stopped the spread of AIDS the way that Cuba did -- by locking all the gay men up for the public good?

Dr. Ed said...

Part 2 of 2

Notwithstanding this, I have to ask why the laws and practices aren't being applied equally. There are obnoxious homeless people in the Amherst/Northampton area, one of whom made the mistake of trying to physically intimidate me into giving him money after I had already politely said "no."

If he would try to get a couple dollars out of the wallet of a large adult male, I don't want to think how nonchalant he would be about trying to intimidate someone who was female, elderly or a child. And the incident happened right outside that children's school/science stuff store on King Street.

While an extreme example, this aggressive begging is an ongoing problem in the area, and in downtown Amherst in particular. This is not threat to self, but threat to others, and not potential but to actual specific persons with actual specific actions.

And what about the guy who makes a mess of traffic when he crawls across busy streets? Most of these people have documented mental illnesses, not learning disabilities mistakenly considered mental illneses but real mental illnesses for which they are receiving government benefits such as SSI/Disability and the like.

Why are they not being arrested and carted off to the psych ward? They individually each are causing far more of a problem to the community than the individual stressed out UMass student so why are their rights protected when the UM kid's aren't?

The reason is that the ACLU would sue and everyone knows it. And the ACLU won't do a damn thing for heterosexual white UM students and absolutely everyone knows it, which is why we have (a) some exceedingly outrageous police treatment of UM kids and the resulting (b) disrespect of the police by the UM student body.

(As an aside, MA law says that a license plate must be visible at 60 feet. Because I was a UMass student traveling a party route (even though I was actually coming back from a law library), I once had a police officer screaming at me for having a license plate not visible at 6000 feet which is more than a mile. Welcome to UMass.)

I have a problem with the dual standards of law enforcement. Homeless schmucks who could be committed (and for whom the mental health treatment would do some good) are not being committed while UM kids whom no jury would ever commit are being bullied and intimidated into being committed when it winds up doing far more damage to them than any benefit gained.

Did I mention that they also get bullied into dropping out of school (with UM keeping all the money they paid), or that all of their student loans immediately become due which precludes them from ever completing their college education in the future?

I have a real problem with this.

And for the record, I never even touched that schmuck who was physically blocked my passage down a public sidewalk. I never had to, I have been told what I can do psychologically if I want to and he got all of it -- and I don't feel guilty about reducing him to tears because I had politely said "no" and tried to go around him when he stepped sideways to block my passage.

And I shouldn't have to even put the above out for the record, either. Welcome to UMass....

Anonymous said...

Ed, in his perennial bad timing, clearly missed today's tragic headlines. The police's precautions were most appropriate.

Dr. Ed said...

No, I am going to say this.

The practice, as I understand it from true (small "l" liberals who are upset it is happening) is for the police to arrest the student on some totally bullsh*t charge which they really wouldn't dare hand to the ADA let alone expect to stand up in court.

Disorderly Conduct and Disturbing the Peace are common, and after the incident in Cambridge with the Harvard Professor, Harvey Silverglate wrote an interesting column in the Phonex about how these two "crimes" are actually unconstitutional.

They accuse the kid of all kinds of things that he did not do, which they know that he did not do, and use the expected protestations of an innocent man as evidence of mental illness. Or in the case of a female student, they threaten to arrest her boyfriend or others whom she cares about.

The Warren Court put an end to these police practices in any criminal arrest because the cops know that their efforts will be for naught with the case thrown out of court and the "guilty man going free."

But these are civil proceedings where the exclusionary rules don't apply and where the police are also explicitly immune from any damage suits for anything they do, including outright KILL the kid, under 123 MGL 12A as interpreted by the First Circuits quite asinine decision in the Lifeline Ambulance case.

UMass Health Services Official Policy states an explicit intent to violate the Commonwealth's Mental Health regs and it goes downhill from there.

As any licensed mental health professional knows, a patient must either have unfettered access to his/her/its medical records, or in the event this would be somehow harmful to the patient (how I can't imagine), the patient must be given a summary of the records with the option of having them sent to an attorney and/or other medical licensee of his/her/its choice.

What UMass is doing is filing the mental health records with the police department as witness statements to which the student is denied access to if the student even knows they exist. I am told that these records are often quite inaccurate and contain a lot of things which the student could challenge the accuracy of were the kid ever allowed to know what the records contain.

(This is why patients are allowed access to their records in the first place, and there are procedures for challenging inaccurate information in medical records, including mental health ones.)

123 MGL 12A allows police to do the commitments "in an emergency" when no mental health professional is available to do it, such as at night. But UMass creates the emergency by deciding during the day that they will have the police do the commitment at night, possibly with a phone call consult with a graduate student intern (who never even sees the kid) and these "police records" then become "medical records" that the police take with them over to CDH.

So we have a kid who -- out of the blue -- is dragged over to the hospital, which has got to be at least traumatic and disorienting, and who is examined by a doctor who has already been told what he will find, and given defamatory medical records to support it. This is an objective evaluation?

And the worst part of it all -- Harry Rockland Miller, the director of UM CCPH, bragged about all of this in an article he wrote for a professional journal.

Those of you in the so-called "helping professions" - are these practices which you wish to have your reputation tarnished with?

And to those of you who want to say this stuff is not happening, well they said the same thing about the Holocaust. Some folks persist in saying it...

Dr. Ed said...

Ed has no problem with the police investigating a report of a man with a gun, and that is what I meant by "probable cause."

I would actually be upset if they hadn't checked it out - like the time that UMass left a decomposing body in a dorm for a week - in the summer heat -- notwithstanding daily complaints from the students about the odor.

My problem is what happened AFTER they found out that it was NOT a gun. And the importance and urgency of them having done this is irrelevant to what they did next, once they knew it was only a BB gun.

Parents: Your child falls down, as children do, and is injured enough for you to take him/her/it to the hospital. Yes, they are going to presume the possibility of child abuse, but when they get the kid alone and he says "yes, I fell off my brand new bicycle" and then starts crying about how he is afraid he broke it as well, that will be the end of them considering you a child abuser.

Would you have a problem if they then turned around and put the kid into DSS custody because child abuse is a serious thing -- that even though they KNOW that you aren't abusing your child, that such "precautions were most appropriate"?????

OUI is a real issue, so do the cops just arrest absolutely everyone driving down the road, or do they bother to first find out which ones are intoxicated and let the others go on their way?

Or maybe we want to have a rebirth of the "Know Nothing" movement and simply arrest everyone who wasn't born in this country out of some precaution to prevent terrorism.

I saw the flash wire story on the tragic headlines this morning. That has no more to do with this than the fact that UM Dean of Students Enku Gelaye was born in Somalia. Enku is many things, but Islamic Terrorist is not one of them...

Anonymous said...

Yikes. Talk about the wrong time to criticize the individual who called this in to the police. 18 kids dead today (KIDS). Someone storming an Elementary school... shooting people at random…killing with his GUNS. Anyone else notice that? Much rather exercise caution and have it called in(plus this guy is on the roof of his building - what if he fell?). Don't we deserve this diligence nowadays. Go ahead and reference some outdated law about your right to have a BB gun "It is not illegal for someone, at least someone over 18, to have one -- and hence having one is not a crime." Dr. Ed (I am quoting). Yeah right. If you don’t get my drift, let me break it down for you. Remember the movie "A Christmas Story."? You'll shoot your eye out. Get your guns and your outdated ideals out of my town and move to the south. Things are real awesome down there and seem more aligned with your values. I don't see the author of this blog taking sides in this whole thing but always have appreciated that he is pretty on top of things in terms of news. Just saying some of the comments make me question the sanity of others out there. But thank you Larry for doing the job of the local paper for free.

Anonymous said...


When will you ever stop printing Ed Cutting's drivel? It's an insult to all of us.

Larry Kelley said...

I'm not a fan of censorship.

As my friends at the ACLU say, "The answer to bad speech is more good speech, not censorship."

Anonymous said...

Ed: One of the best positions to take out the most targets in a mass murder incident is from an elevated position (ie roof. Remember ex Marine W. Whitman as in the Univ of Texas?). That frat is on a main road with two very busy bus stops nearby. You (or anyone else) cannot tell a BB gun from a rifle at distance. The story does not clarify if the rifle is an actual BB gun or a modern air rifle (which can launch a .177 caliber.. at a rate greater than 2300 fps...can easily kill/maim). Either way, the concern for public safety is certainly heightened.

IF someone called 911 or the police located/identified someone who was disturbed by this act (which the clearly were) then you easily have a breach of the peace...makes just about any statute in MA arrestable. There are also statutes (think disorderly conduct) which are arrestable in similar circumstances.

Let the police departments do their job, pretty damn sure that there are several applicable arrestable offenses here.. BIG difference from shooting tin cans in your back yard...a frat on a major college campus? Right smack dab in the middle of a busy well populated area? Gun (you MUST believe that it is until proven ptherwise) on a roof? Really?

Anonymous said...

Hey Ed: BB guns are VERY realistic nowadays. The "protective" orange tips can be broken off or painted flat back easily. Damn things look authentic even up close. That dufus points that gun at a cop and he gets shot (and dies or is seriously injured) would you be the one screaming injustice? How about if a cop sees that kid pointing that gun at some unsuspecting pedestrian and does the same?

YOU are not in a position to make those decisions; they are. Thats why we pay them and they are not easy decisions to make. Damn right he gets arrested, and no one got hurt I may add. Sign of a good (or very lucky) PD.

THINK MAN! THINK! Let me guess: book smart; common sense ignorant.

Anonymous said...

There's the unmentioned part of this story where a little bird witnessed the police hurl the kid off the steps face first onto the pavement when he had his hands up defenseless. And it happened yesterday... Before the tragedy of this morning. So circumstances make the incident that much worse today? Or are you completely unable to look at it from an unbiased point of view. I see faults on both sides but that one is being covered up

Expatriot Dr. Ed said...

BB guns are VERY realistic nowadays. The "protective" orange tips can be broken off or painted flat back easily. Damn things look authentic even up close.

And the police are perfectly right in presuming that is a real gun until they know otherwise.

That dufus points that gun at a cop and he gets shot

Provided that the polce more or less followed their procedures for the use of deadly force when confronted with a firearm, I would congratulate them for a job well done and say that the schmuck got exactly what he deserved.

YOU are not in a position to make those decisions; they are.

Please forgive me, I wasn't aware we lived in a police state.

Damn right he gets arrested
even though he didn't violate any laws, but I guess the police "don't need no stinking badges, either."

THINK MAN! THINK! Let me guess: book smart; common sense ignorant.

No, just someone stupid enough to believe that the police would actually obey the law and not just arrest random folks for the hell of it.

I honestly would like to know what the hell they arrested him FOR (i.e. charges) and no one has given that information yet.

Larry Kelley said...

William C. Lewis, of 4760 Doylestown, Penn., was charged with disorderly conduct and possession of a weapon while committing a breach of peace.

Anonymous said...

Ed there couldn't be a more appropriate day for you to shut your yap than this one but instead your doubled down on the crazy talk.

Anonymous said...

There was a minister who survived the Holocaust and is known for his famous statement about how he didn't speak up until there was no one to speak up for him.

I would have to check the statistics, but I'm guessing that more small children in America died yesterday from choaking to death than were shot in that school.

Statistically, one is far more likely to be shot by the friendly fire of a police officer missing the person he is shooting at than to be shot in one of these rampage things.

Dr. Ed said...

I hope that Mr. Lewis challenges those charges, and here is Harvey Silverglate's Phonex piece:

And the difference between Mr. Lewis and Mr. Gates is that one is white and the other black, one a UM student and the other a Harvard Professor.

But otherwise -- well....