Thursday, June 5, 2008

COMMENTARY: Did F&M Cops Have Authority to Detain Publisher?

Franklin & Marshall Public Safety Officers' authority, to act as police officers, is derived from Pennsylvania Title 22.

Section 501 states, § 501. "Appointment by nonprofit corporations.
(c) Powers.--Such policemen, so appointed, shall severally possess and exercise all the powers of a police officer in this Commonwealth, in and upon, and in the immediate and adjacent vicinity of, the property of the corporation."

The question is raised if the south side of Marietta Avenue, across from its presidents residence, is the "immediate and adjacent vicinity" of F&M property.

But of even greater relevance, there has been no official explanation as to why Co-Publisher / Editor Christiaan Hart Nibbrig was arrested.

The F&M spokesperson could not answer why he was arrested and held at the F & M Security Office, only to receive a letter that he is not allowed to be on F&M property – yet there is no allegation or reports that he was ever on the F&M property located on the north side of Marietta Avenue.

F&M Public Safety Officers arrested Hart Nibbrig at the same time as Ron Harper, Jr., a subject described elsewhere on NewsLanc. Released video shows Harper and Hart Nibbrig were on the south side of Marietta Avenue when stopped and detained by F&M Public Safety Officers.

If allowed to go without court censure, a precedent would be set for the Public Safety Officers of F&M to leave F&M property, arrest, handcuff, transport, and hold anyone for at least two hours, and unilaterally issue a do not trespass letter.

Even if they actually have the official power to do this, it is worse when it is done to stifle the First Amendment rights of a newspaper publisher.

The Public Safety Officer's actions were supervised and witnessed by F&M President John Fry, who watched his Public Safety Officers take brutalized Co-Publisher Ron Harper, Jr. and Hart Nibbrig into custody.