In support of the facts

It would seem College students continue to actively buck their apathetic label.

In the fallout of Mike Tracey’s arrest, hundreds of students, alumni, professors and outside supporters have rushed to his defense. Tracey, the vice president of the College Democrats and junior political science major, was arrested at Ann Coulter’s Feb. 18 lecture.

Even though the large-scale mobilization of this outspoken support is impressive, it is also somewhat troubling.

In the immediate aftermath of Tracey’s arrest, not only students but even professors and alumni jumped to his defense, seemingly without a second thought. More than 1,000 people joined a Facebook group supporting him and words like “injustice,” “brutality” and “abuse” are being thrown around casually. The Facebook group’s description includes Tracey’s own statement, which is clearly being taken at face value without any investigation or questioning. Signs have been hung in buildings around campus and shoved under doors publicizing the situation.

Few supporters have taken the time to stop and consider the facts, though they’ve been quick to implore us to support Tracey.

Tracey supporters, many of whom were involved in the protest movement against Coulter, have been flooding The Signal’s e-mail inbox, demanding an editorial supporting Tracey. Clearly, many of the people sending these e-mails have only read Tracey’s statement. If we did write an editorial in support of Tracey, we’d be overlooking many of the facts we hold dear as journalists.

The Tracey supporters are directing most of their efforts at Campus Police and Chief John Collins. Yet, Tracey was arrested by a Ewing Police Officer, transported to Campus Police headquarters in a Ewing squad car and the police report was filed by the Ewing Police department. In this regard, protesting Campus Police will accomplish very little.

The supporters have also failed to consider information from diverse and independent sources, such as the accounts of eye-witnesses or the police report. They have adopted Tracey’s account of the event as their own. Perhaps if they read the comments posted on his dailykos.com post, they would have read the opinions of a few who commented, identifying themselves as attorneys, who said that Tracey describes resisting arrest twice in his own defense.

This is not to say the police are off the hook. Far from it. Tracey’s allegations of abuse should be taken seriously. It is both unbecoming and unprofessional of a police officer to use derogatory and offensive language. Hate-filled terms like “faggot” have no place in society – especially when used by an official employed to uphold the law.

But right now, it’s Tracey’s word against that of the police. Only a thorough investigation and dogged pursuit of the truth will yield the most accurate account of what happened.

So no, The Signal is not writing an editorial rallying to Tracey’s cause as so many students have asked us to do. We’re also not supporting the police. We’re writing this editorial in support of the facts. And we encourage you to consider them before you make up your mind.