On the weekends, it is not uncommon to see herds of Ithaca College freshmen walking down Hudson Street in search of a place to spend their Saturday nights. The reality that a college senior would throw a party on any given weekend does not come as a shock, especially in a college town like Ithaca.
On Nov. 17, 2016, Kyle Goldstein ’16 threw a party at his off-campus house. When the police arrived to end the party, Goldstein claimed that he was illegally detained and arrested by Ithaca police officers Jacob Allard and Daniel Bechtold. In his lawsuit filed against the Ithaca police department, Goldstein claimed that while he was on the floor in handcuffs, not resisting arrest or trying to flee, he was sprayed in the eyes with pepper spray. Goldstein suffered injuries to both of his eyes and permanent damage to his right eye.
A lawsuit filed by Goldstein in 2016 reached a settlement in November in which Goldstein received $251,000 from the City of Ithaca as reparations for what he experienced that night. Although Goldstein’s lawyer believes this is a satisfactory outcome of the events that transpired in November 2016, it does not correctly address the central issue. City of Ithaca police officers were abusing their authority by subjecting a student to a misdirected and violent action with no apparent provocation.
Ithaca is a college town with Ithaca College, Cornell University and Tompkins Cortland Community College all in the region. It is unrealistic to expect a college town to not have college parties, and it especially is wrong for a person to be treated like a dangerous criminal when they do.
This does not go without saying that there should be a degree of control when it comes to events like college parties. The responsibility to maintain control over the situation falls on both the students throwing the party and the police officers responding when the noise is getting too loud.
The altercation that took place among Goldstein and the Ithaca police officers was an example of ill-temperament and abuse of power. This was not an instance of the police officers doing their job and peacefully ending a party.
Although Goldstein’s case has been closed and a settlement has been reached, this does not mean the issue of aggressive police officers patrolling South Hill has also come to an end. If anything, this situation should be something that remains pertinent upon future observation of the policing powers in Ithaca. We unfortunately exist in a world where abuses of power continue to happen, even in our own backyard. And while organizations can throw thousands of dollars into settlement and closure, it is important that these cases do not get erased from sight and mind in the aftermath.