Aug. 20, 2017
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In the Fray

The party’s over at the College of Santa Fe

December 10, 2008, 12:00 am

Wilson counts himself lucky. He left Karla Kerner’s party maybe 10 minutes before the police showed up.

He had had his own run-in a month before that, on Sept. 3, while taking his usual route home through campus on his bicycle. Because Michelle Obama was speaking at CSF that day, guards from exotic law enforcement agencies like the Secret Service, backed up by the increasingly familiar SFPD, swarmed campus.

The police checkpoint at the gates annoyed Wilson. “I paid $30,000 a semester to go to that school, so I felt pretty entitled to ride my bike down the sidewalk,” he says.

As he pedaled by, an SFPD officer shouted for him to stop. Wilson obliged. “I go to school here. I’m not a terrorist,” he recalls saying. The officer, according to Wilson, said, “‘You’d better get the fuck out of here.’” Wilson then decided to lecture the officer about his rights as a citizen.

Kerner mugshot“‘You’ve got 30 seconds to get the fuck out of my face or I’m going to arrest you,’” the officer said, in Wilson’s telling. “He said, ‘You know, it’s dumb shits like you that make my job as hard as it is.’ I told him, ‘It’s people like you that are the problem with the whole world.’”

Another SFPD patrol car arrived, and the officer “changed his whole song and dance,” Wilson says. The threat of arrest proved hollow. But Wilson, defeated, had to take the long way home.

When he got home, he filed a complaint against the officer. And, like others who have had problems with the police this academic year, Wilson also told CSF’s Dean of Students, Joseph Fitzpatrick, about the argument. “I believe Cole handled that situation in an extremely efficient and responsible manner,” Fitzpatrick says in a response to written questions from SFR.

In a memo passed to students, who in turn passed it to SFR, Fitzpatrick counts 29 police encounters with students between late August and early November. Most of those incidents were, like Wilson’s, inconsequential. Nonetheless, the trend was unsettling to the 417 students who live on campus and weren’t used to police officers walking through the dorms.

Noting the officer’s “supposed” motives, Fitzpatrick’s memo betrays some ambivalence about the police presence:

Aug. 28, 11:36 p.m. — Police officer found wandering through Kennedy Hall looking for a party to break up.
Sept. 14, 9:00 p.m. — SFPD respond to noise complaint at Alumni Hall. Uncertain who contacted, but wasn’t Security.
Sept. 15, 2:00 a.m. — SFPD on campus. Security let into King Hall. Supposedly SFPD received a call about noise and drinking. Nothing occurred.
Sept. 28, 2:00 a.m. — SFPD responded to a call regarding possible assault. While on campus, arrested a student for paraphernalia/possession.
Lester mugshot
And then there’s Fitzpatrick’s notation of the infamous Libra birthday bash:

Oct. 5, ? — SFPD arrest one student and one alum at an off-campus party for multiple charges including resisting arrest and assault on a police officer.

The exact timeline of Karla Kerner’s party isn’t the only question hanging over the night. It’s also unclear how police came to enter the house. What is documented is that by 4:10 am on Oct. 5, one host and one guest would be photographed, fingerprinted and booked into Santa Fe County jail.

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