Sunday, October 12, 2003Chetly Zarko discusses the U-M Department of Public Safety's use of the trespass law to keep campus squeaky-clean of any undesirable on his new blog:
"The Czar's Court has increasingly come to hear several stories relating to the DPS use of trespassing laws to intimidate disliked individuals, political opponents, and even to keep the look of the campus "clean" by discouraging homeless individuals from moving around on campus. At two of the last four Regents public comments sessions, a local advocate of homeless rights has expressed his own concerns on this issue (citing DPS treatment of him personally, while in public places at the U-M). This gentleman felt that DPS discriminated against him because of his age and very casual dress style. Several years ago, a local black activist who had claimed the University had defrauded the federal government in commerce-related research, was prosecuted for trespass. Just recently, a university employee fired for alleged personal misconduct (but who had years ago raised similar fraud questions), was read the University "trespass card" by a DPS officer at his/her home off-campus after s/he had left several messages on his/her former bosses' answering machines. This latter case is particularly distressing if true, as it represents DPS movement out-of-jurisdiction and DPS didn't file harassment charges based on the taped answering machine messages. If the former employee were truly "harassing University employees, the University had the right and power to get a court restraining order and to prosecute based upon phone harassment law. But now, using this mechanism, without due process and based upon the whims and personal feelings of mid-level University employees, this Ann Arbor citizen will be arrested on sight if appearing anywhere on campus (including a football game). ... "
This is certainly something worth investigating further, especially since it my experience it seems to be applied so unevenly: "homeless" people are allowed near State and North U., but evidently kicked off if they are somewhere more visible. Although I'm not certain about the history, I believe this power of the University is given by state law, although a quick search of the Michigan Compiled Laws came up with nothing specific to the University, although here's the general trespassing law.
Posted by Rob at 2:02 AM