Mike Tracey’s arrest on Feb. 18 has brought serious issues to the forefront of the campus consciousness. When are police within their rights to arrest someone? Once arrested, how should the person be treated? How willing are we to pursue intellectual discourse on this campus?
The police involved in Tracey’s arrest showed where they stand. More than 1,000 people have joined together on the Facebook group “Stand With Mike Tracey,” to say otherwise.
Tracey was arrested in an attempt to ask Ann Coulter a question and had no intention of causing a disturbance. The officers claimed without a book for Coulter to sign, he was not permitted to approach her. As a student who has been given the duty by the College to pursue learning and discourse at the expense of all other activities, Tracey walked up to Coulter to pose his question.
Even those who believe Tracey should have acquiesced to the officers’ request will agree the treatment he received is not in keeping with what we as students and citizens expect from officers of the law. The amount of force they exerted on Tracey was unnecessary to restrain him. An officer knelt on his head, leaving a noticeable abrasion. His wrists were bruised and irritated after the officers applied handcuffs that were too tight and incorrectly fastened. Arrests of nonviolent individuals should not be so brutal as to leave physical wounds.
Beyond the physical assault, Tracey was verbally abused. Hateful speech such as “faggot,” “fucking asshole” and “shithead” is never appropriate language to use, especially by police officers. The term “faggot” is reprehensible in that it is meant to demean a specific subgroup of people. This is especially troubling, because Tracey was arrested for attempting to discuss what he deemed to be a discriminatory comment from Coulter. Only with more of the discourse Tracey sought can we ever hope to end the racism and homophobia that occur at the College and across the country.
Unfortunately, Tracey’s desire for intellectual discussion was met with brutality and cruelty. This troubling event happened at the College, a place where we expect to be safe and have the opportunity to express ourselves.