A Session on Policing in a Diverse Community Turns into Protest

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Jackie Richardson ’21

Editor in Chief

Update 3: The Sophian has obtained footage of the protest at the JMG and has updated the article; updates are written in bold.

Update 2: President McCartney sent out an email to students, staff and faculty that due to a “lack of trust” in Daniel Hect, he has been placed on administrative leave. Deputy Campus Police Chief Ray LaBarre has been appointed as the acting Chief of Campus Police.

Update 1: In a quote to The Sophian, a representative for the SSJIC (Students for Social Justice and Institutional Change club) said they wanted “Daniel Hect to resign immediately.”

A session about policing in a diverse community quickly turned into a protest calling for Daniel Hect, the new campus chief of police, to resign.

The session began in the Weinstein Auditorium but was quickly moved to the JMG due to the number of people who wanted to go to the session. Although it was meant to have two parts – one with Earl Brown and Josh Dufresne and another with Daniel Hect – the audience, holdings signs that said “Protect undocumented students!” and “Build a wall around racists,” quickly made it known that they were only interested in Hect’s presentation, and so, when the audience moved to the JMG, he took to the stage.

The first student to be given a microphone identified herself as undocumented and asked Hect how she would be able to feel safe now that he was the chief of police. The tweets he liked, said the student, went against her and her existence because, to him, she was an “illegal.” She knew he said he liked those by accident, but she didn’t understand how he could claim this when, she said, “you have to consciously slide, click, like?”

Hect responded by first addressing his choice of words. He said: “My choice of words, ‘by accident…’ Of course, I liked those posts. I’m not making excuses. I took those posts over a three-year period, and when I took them out and put them together, it was a different window from when I originally looked at them. So by taking those posts out and putting them together, I saw what you saw.” Some audience members shouted “bullshit” at him; he continued: “Someone asked me to repeat it? Can I repeat it? When I was told they existed, I was like, ‘that’s not me, that doesn’t sound like me.’”

Hect couldn’t seem to provide satisfying questions to other questions. When asked why he tweeted at Donald Trump thanking him for his service and asking if he had considered pardons for his attorney, Hect said that he didn’t tweet this; when a student gave him a poster with the tweet, he mumbled something about the possibility of image’s fakeness. When asked about the steps he had taken – the institutions he had worked with, the people he consulted – to try to understand this community, a community of activists, of people of color, he said that he had been to conferences about intersectionality where he was the only cop in the room. When asked again about his tweets, he said, incredulous, “I don’t have a good answer to that question!”

The session ended when a student asked if he would resign; he said, “No.” The student asked the audience, many of whom were Smith students of color, whether they wanted Daniel Hect to resign. They shouted, “yes!” and after this, they all left.

Tomorrow, the SSJIC will protest at the JMG at 12:30; supporters, they said, should wear red.

*This is a developing story; updates will be posted as they come.