Students at Eastern Carolina University took advantage of a rare opportunity on 20 January. The campus received an uncharacteristically large amount of snowfall and the University was forced to cancel Tuesday’s classes. Students elected to head outdoors and recapture their early childhood by engaging in an old fashioned snowball fight. Reports indicated that around 200-250 students joined in the festivities.
The students enjoyed their much needed respite, until the police came to “protect and to serve.” Unfortunately, the events that ensued were all too predictable. One 18 year old student, Steven Rashad Bass, allegedly threw a snowball at one of the officers that arrived to stop the students’ fun. Evidently, the officer’s bullet proof vest was not approved for defense against snowballs.
The video posted by students’ on youtube shows Bass begin to run from the officer but then change his mind and stop. The officer then tackled Bass, and handcuffed him. As Bass’s fellow students approached the officer who had Bass pinned on the ground, they were attacked with pepper spray by the officer.
Fortunately, there was some public outcry over the fiasco, though limited. Police overreacting to relatively harmless events is far too common. Have they forgotten that they work for us? It seems that the police mentality is more like that of a prison warden than that of a private body guard. They seem to believe that any level of force is justified under any circumstances. These officers need to remember that they are not wardens and the public are not prisoners.