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Benefit Busted, Activists Arrested

More than a month before Eugene’s stiffer penalties for rowdy parties begins, the Eugene Police Department has an itchy party-busting finger.

EPD busted a benefit for gays and lesbians at the Campbell Club and arrested 14 people when they responded to a noise complaint the night of Feb. 15. Residents of the student housing cooperative, home to many student activists, say EPD’s response was excessive and that news reports have characterized the party as louder and wilder than it was.

Chanel Warzynski, who lives at the Campbell Club and was arrested in the incident, says that Campbell Club residents try to set a precedent of being “polite but assertive” about their rights when they interact with the cops. She says that hosts turned down the music when they saw police outside, and when additional police officers arrived they turned off the music completely. But they refused to allow officers to enter without a warrant, which police soon acquired.

EPD Lieutenant Doug Mozan, who was not one of the officers responding that night, says that before officers spoke with occupants of the Campbell Club, two people who identified themselves as residents resisted arrest, and while trying to apprehend them a police officer was “actively pulled inside,” though he was able to get out. But another EPD officer had told the R-G the officer was “grabbed from behind.”

“It sounds like it devolved into a very scary event,” Mozan says, “and it pulled all the police resources from the city to handle what should have just been a non-event.” 

Warnynski says that while she wasn’t able to see everything that was happening, what she did see were people calmly asserting their rights by asking if they were being detained or only answering the questions legally required of them. “It seems that people were targeted for knowing their rights and for doing what people should do in a circumstance like that, which is ask for a warrant before letting people in,” she says. 

“There were 15 police officers in the house; doors were broken down and ripped off their hinges using a battering ram,” Warzynski says. “People were drug out of their beds who were sleeping, including people who were ill with the flu.” 

Fourteen residents were charged with prohibited noise, six of those were also charged with interfering with police, and one was also charged with resisting arrest. Nine citations for noise and eight minor in possessions were given at the Campbell Club.

An EPD spokesperson says that the Campbell Club is an “active address,” but the most recent noise complaints accessible in the EPD computer system were in October 2012 and May 2011. Eugene’s new social host ordinance, which EPD will begin enforcing April 2, will mean higher fines for repeat party houses and their landlords. 

Warzynski says she was in custody the longest, nine hours, which she says is excessive and a poor use of resources. “I would still be in jail until Tuesday for a noise violation except that I got bailed out in the nick of time,” she says. “It’s just ridiculous to be held in jail for a noise violation when normally the precedent has been to ticket people and then move on.”

Mozan says that the arrestees were put in jail beds paid for and reserved by the municipal court, so it wasn’t a situation where a violent felon was released to house people charged with noise violations.