Saturday, February 4, 2023

Protesters and SGA Senators voice concerns with police chief’s remarks about parking garage arrest

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Story by Serena Vasudeva | Contributing Writer

Protesters and Student Government Association members heard from Middle Tennessee State University Police Chief Edwin Kaup Thursday about an arrest at True Blue Parking Garage that week. 

Kaup revealed previously unkown details about the arrest and addressed criticism of the arresting officers in the wake of videos of the incident circulating online.

Edwin Kaup, MTSU Police Chief, speaks in front of SGA about the recent arrest in the True Blue Avenue parking garage. (Photo by Aubrey Salm)

That night, officers told three people to exit the vehicle seen in the videos. According to Kaup, the driver complied but Marcellous Campbell, a passenger, told responding officers they had no right to tell him to leave the car. Kaup told the SGA meeting attendants that the U.S Supreme Court case Pennsylvania v. Mimms gives officers the right to ask people to step out of vehicles.  Officers spent 13 minutes asking Campell to leave the vehicle. 

“13 minutes is quite a long time, especially with 100 people above you yelling at you,” Kaup said. 

Officers eventually pulled Campbell out of his car, during which conflict ensued. Campbell was tackled, kneed and pepper-sprayed. Afterwards, Kaup explained that one officer, a paramedic, spent about 10 minutes cleaning Campbells face. An ambulance was called and no injuries were sustained except for a scrape on an officer’s knee, Kaup said. 

“To me, our officers did an exceptional job,” Kaup noted.

Kaup also addressed criticisms that the officers involved used excessive force when apprehending Campbell.

Tyler Roadman, organizer of the protest, asks MTSU Police Chief Edwin Kaup a question. (Photo by Aubrey Salm)

“When we talk about use of force stuff, nothing will ever look good…” Kaup said. “All I know is that they didn’t belong on the university campus, they destroyed university property, and then they fought with the police.”

SGA Sen. Ashton Beatty originally felt that campus police mishandled the arrest and that MTSU President Sidney McPhee’s response, which was sent via email, was inadequate. 

“The least they could have done is looked into it a little instead of blindly accepting whatever the police chief said,” Beatty said.

He attended the SGA meeting where Kaup spoke. Hearing that destruction of property had prompted the police response changed Beatty’s perspective.

 “I did go in with very low expectations but it did genuinely change my perspective… What he said was very reasonable and I hope students listen to what he said and hear his perspective.” 

Ty Stallings, President of the Young Democratic Socialists of America, was also in attendance. Stallings organized a small, five-member protest against police brutality. Both before and after hearing Kaup speak, Stallings felt the arrest was violent and excessive. 

“Any justification of ‘violence never looks good,’ that’s the point,” Stallings said. “You probably shouldn’t have hit him. He was up against a wall.”

Stallings believed that the number of responding officers was inappropriate, and that additional officers should have been focused on keeping the crowd safe instead of apprehending Campbell. 

“After the meeting, I feel like a lot of people are still angry about this, if not a little more defeated,” Stallings said.

Stallings also thought McPhee’s statement was “insulting” and didn’t answer any questions about the arrest.

Theo Baker, President of MTSU College Democrats, also attended the meeting. Before it, he said he was confused about the facts of the arrest. He recalled feeling outraged as he watched videos on TikTok and Instagram, which showed Campbell getting kneed and pepper-sprayed. In the days following the arrest, he reached out to black student organizations to hear their perspectives. 

“I think the university needs to pay attention to its minority students,” Baker said. “Apparently this profiling that black students face has been going on since some of their parents have been here. This is continual.”

After hearing Kaup’s statement, he still feels the use of force was unjust.

Kaup explained that during rare instances where students are caught trespassing,  things are usually handled through the university as opposed to the legal system. If community members are caught trespassing, they are typically given a notice as opposed to being arrested. Kaup encouraged students with concerns following the arrest to reach out through his MTSU email or watch the recorded SGA meeting where he spoke.

To contact News Editor Matthew Giffin and Assistant News Editor Kailee Shores, email newseditor@mtsusidelines.com.

For more news, visit www.mtsusidelines.com, or follow us on Facebook at MTSU Sidelines or on Twitter at @Sidelines_News.

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