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Brockport students face charges after altercations with the village's police and local business employees

by Kiara Alfonseca - Editor-in-Chief
Mon, Mar 6th 2017 10:00 am

Over the weekend of Friday, Feb. 24, through Saturday, Feb. 26, the Village of Brockport found itself caught in a whirlwind of arrests and charges against a number of The College at Brockport students and a recent graduate. Organizations representing students of color held a meeting on Wednesday, March 1, to address concerns over the alleged macing, physical roughness and ticketing from Brockport Police Department, as well as a physical altercation with local business employees.

Three students were arrested following a house party in apartment 44 of the Crossings Apartment complex on Holley Street and one former student, Bayo Oluyole, is charged with harassment of the second degree and trespassing after his exit from Merchants Street Smoke and Steakhouse on Sunday, Feb. 26, resulted in a physical altercation with the bar's bouncers. All four are students of color.

One of the three students arrested at the party, Justin M. Fernandez, is charged with a felony for second degree assault, along with two misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and second degree obstruction of governmental administration, according to the Brockport Police blotter. Fernandez, who says he spent four days in Monroe County Jail, was allegedly sprayed with mace while recording an altercation on his phone between BPD officers and party attendees occurring within the apartment. According to Fernandez, he is no longer allowed to attend classes, enter residence halls or participate as a member of the football team indefinitely.

"[The party] was shut down for a fight happening outside," Fernandez said in a meeting with students on campus. "When it got out of hand was when it took more than two officers to bring down a fellow student. I turn back and I see two to three officers tackling one black student ... At other parties I have been at I have never seen it ever get to that level of security."

Among the arrests is the student who rents the apartment, Patrick R. Laroque, and attendee Kendell A. Daniel, both with two misdemeanor charges of resisting arrest and second degree obstruction of governmental administration, according to the blotter.

"They pushed me," Fernandez said. "They pepper-sprayed me, I was left sitting there waiting for an ambulance."

When asked about the allegations, BPD Chief of Police Daniel Varrenti wrote in an email "we [BPD] have no comment" because of the investigations and legal actions currently taking place. Village Mayor Margaret B. Blackman could not be reached for comment.

On Sunday, Feb. 26, Oluyole's account of his situation begins with him leaving Merchants. Leaving the establishment at approximately 2 a.m., he claims the bouncer of the bar took a cup out of his hand and from there, Oluyole replied "Thank you, I could've gotten a ticket out there, but you didn't have to be so aggressive."

Following this, the physical altercation began, where Oluyole describes being allegedly held in a choke hold, passing out and being hit repeatedly. He then says BPD witnessed the last moments of the altercation, which then resulted in his ticket of harassment and trespassing. Oluyole now reports a fractured hand, swollen throat and cuts on his face that are now healing, all of which he received during the altercation.

The owner of Merchant Street Smoke and Steakhouse gave The Stylus a statement concerning this incident: "[Oluyole] was trying to leave my establishment with an alcoholic beverage it was taken from him at the front door just like everyone else that tries to leave with an alcoholic beverage. He then chose to confront my security staff in an aggressive manner instead of leaving peacefully. As a result my staff had to restrain him until police arrived to handle the situation ... At no point in time was he ever beaten or handled in a manner that wasn't necessary to restrain him for the safety of patrons and staff."

The meeting, at which Fernandez, Laroque and Oluyole spoke, was hosted by student leaders from organizations across campus, such as Men of Color, Organization for Students of African Descent, African Student Union, Association of Latino American Students and more; the meeting, originally held for a general body MOC meeting, became one where the three could speak to describe their perspectives on the events of Saturday night and Sunday morning. Following their accounts, students could ask questions or brainstorm solutions for these kinds of incidents. Many encouraged support from the college's administration, as well as ways to address the unnecessary aggression toward specific students. One student at the meeting, Olu Gbajumo, was at the party in apartment 44 and stands by his fellow students.

"Yes I was at the party," Gbajumo wrote in a private message. "Yes I've seen these students being mistreated, and yes I feel like the college needs to make a comment saying that it will protect the students if need be ... we have started a hashtag #blackstudentsarestudents."

Administration is working with the village to follow up on the incident concerning the current students of the college.

"Our university police have been in contact with Brockport Police Department to gain a better understanding of what happened," the college's Chief Communications Officer David Mihalyov said.

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