Editorial: Pitt police prompt in aiding arrested students

By Staff Editorial

To say that police actions over the weekend have left a lot of students mad would be an… To say that police actions over the weekend have left a lot of students mad would be an understatement. Students are disillusioned with the law, and perhaps none are angrier than those arrested for being — in their terms — onlookers. But amid the scathing criticisms, police — at least the Pitt police — are doing something right in the aftermath, just as many of them did in the middle of the chaos.

Pitt police are being far more proactive than the city police.

Pitt police, along with nine other police forces arrested nearly 200 individuals — mostly for failure to disperse, disorderly conduct and criminal mischief. Pitt police chief Tim Delaney said he’s working with the district attorney to drop charges for some students arrested Thursday and Friday night. Of the 188 arrested, Delaney believes about a quarter to be Pitt students, and those with failure to disperse charges and disorderly conduct charges might be able to have their charges dropped. Delaney said he himself cannot dismiss the charges, but he can recommend the district attorney do so. Those students he meets with will have a chance to explain their situation. The district attorney has already dropped four students’ charges, because of the quick response by the Pitt police.

In the chaos that ensued Thursday and Friday night in Oakland, invariably some of the arrests resulted from confusion, not criminality — and city police made the majority of arrests. So what are they doing to help those who may have been wrongly arrested?

According to the deputy city police chief, Pitt students who can prove they were “caught up” with protestors might be able to have their charges dismissed — an action with good intention. But students with pending charges need concrete help and they need it soon. Not to mention this standard requires students to prove their innocence, which isn’t exactly how things are supposed to work.

Students arrested over the weekend in Oakland need their charges dropped right away if they were, in fact, only bystanders. Soon, they’ll have court dates to attend. If they’re looking to fight their charges, some will want to hire attorneys — a process that is expensive and time consuming. This situation furthers the need to accelerate the process.

The student bystanders forced into handcuffs those nights have faced enough problems at the hands of the law. They’ve faced humiliation and, if nothing else, one hell of a headache. Yes, in some situations it was undoubtedly difficult for police to discern who might have been a volatile protester and who was just an onlooker. But now the riots are over. While the authorities should seek to prosecute the real wrongdoers, at this point, their priority should be quickly clearing charges from those wrongly arrested.