April 21, 1990
A student protest against bigotry became a violent confrontation with police
on President S. Frederick Starr’s lawn Friday night. Outraged students
alleged police brutality; police brought charges against six students.
The March Against Bigotry began at about 11:20 p.m. at Wilder Hall, and
headed toward Starr’s house at 154 Forest Street.
Upon arrival there, at about 11:30 p.m., almost 200 slogan-chanting students
— including some from other colleges and Oberlin High School —
encountered Director of Residential Life and Services Ellis Delphin, Assistant
Dean of Residential Life Rebecca Woodrick, and Oberlin Security Chief Richard
McDaniel and some of his officers. Two city police officers were also present.
The Starrs were not at home.
McDaniel told some students not to go on the lawn, but they did so anyway,
McDaniel said. A security officer then warned students that the police meant
business, whereupon a few students left. The rest linked arms and sat in a tight
circle on the lawn.
Speakers from the crowd addressed the students for about 15 minutes amidst
intermittent warnings from authorities, which were unintelligible to most, and
Three city police officers moved into the crowd, and as they tried to
apprehend [a student] — with excessive force, said some students; with
resistance from students, say others — violence broke out.
During the five to ten minute clash, students chanted “No
violence!”Three students were forcibly detained in police cars; two
others, unsolicited by the police, also entered the vehicles.
A stalemate ensued which lasted at least an hour during which [several
College administrators] and Chief of Police Robert Jones arrived on the scene.
At about 1:20 a.m., [Provost Sam] Carrier and [Dean of Student Life and
Services Patrick] Penn negotiated an agreement with Jones. Students detained by
police were released; police cars were allowed to leave.