To the Williams Record staff and Williams community:
The morning of Friday, Nov. 30 may have been witness to one of the most horrific events of violence to ever take place on the Williams campus. For me, it ended around 6:30 am after I let go of my best friend’s hand, wiped his bloodied face and watched him go into surgery.
Thursday night began for me as it does for many on this campus, doing work. Around midnight I wandered down to Spring Street to chat with some friends and grab a drink at the Log. Around 1:10 a.m., as I was making my way home, a tremendous roar erupted near the top of Spring Street. Several students left the scene in absolute horror, screaming for help. As several of my friends and I hastily approached the scene, we observed the unimaginable.
As I fought through a crowd of 30 or 40 people who were obviously not Williams College students, I made my way to the center to witness several Williams students being assaulted. My dear friend, someone who I consider to be family, had just been pulled out from under the boots of five or six individuals. His face and clothes were covered in blood. Just as we were trying to end this scuffle, a Williams Security officer arrived along with faculty member Fletcher Brooks and his brother Ethan. They attempted to restore order and at least stop the viciousness that had marked the previous five minutes. Williamstown police did not respond until five to six minutes later, putting their response to the scene at least ten or fifteen minutes after the incident began. Their presence is most strongly felt around campus for such offenses as arresting students for public urination or violating the open container law.
The local newspaper and Dean Roseman reported the incident as a “verbal argument [which] escalated into a physical confrontation . . . a large brawl between several people then developed.” Perhaps many of the facts have not yet been revealed, but this was not a brawl of any kind. True, as Dean Roseman announced to the campus in the e-mail, there were 40 to 50 people involved. There were only three or four Williams students involved and though it is not yet known how this began, it apparently was a case of a few students being at the wrong place at the wrong time.
The aggressors, according to Williamstown Police Reports, are residents of nearby Pittsfield who frequent Spring Street and its establishment, Canterbury’s Pub, on Thursday and Saturday nights. This is not the first incident in Williamstown for these Pittsfield “thugs” or for Canterbury’s. This is also a problem that the entire community must be made aware of and recognize. It is not just a drinking problem or a noise problem, it could have happened to any one of us. Spring Street is the center of campus. Anyone near the proximity at that time, whether they were leaving Jesup or entering Morgan Hall, was in danger.
My father grew up in the Bedford-Stuyvesant portion of Brooklyn, and upon hearing the news of this he grew silent, and then angry. He explained how he spent his childhood and adolescence trying to never be at the wrong place at the wrong time, never an unfortunate victim of circumstances. That was the way of life for a kid from a bad Brooklyn neighborhood. Is Williamstown supposed to be this way? Are three students supposed to be hospitalized with serious injuries because they were disturbingly attacked by outsiders? Does my best friend have to have his jaw wired shut because it is severely broken in two places, have dental surgery because his teeth were damaged, have his nose bandaged because it was fractured, and have headaches because of the concussion he suffered while being kicked in the head?
I challenge the Williamstown Police Department to engage this issue and make campus safety a priority. Apprehend these criminals and prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law, and do this at whatever costs. If Canterbury’s is to blame because the bar not only encourages this element but welcomes it, then shut it down, don’t renew its liquor license and be done with the issue. If the department needs more officers, hire them. This is my plea so that this incident isn’t allowed to quietly go away before another Williamstown citizen is attacked and injured.
I commend Williams Security for its ever-improving methods of interacting with and protecting the students here. The officers to arrive first, despite lacking the necessary law enforcement means of protection showed great courage in their attempts to help the students.
There have been many different reports of this incident. Some involve guns, knives and other weapons. I am thankful that my best friend is still alive, that he did not take one too many kicks to the head and suffer brain damage.
I am also angry, as I should be, at the community at large. Members of the Williams Community were attacked and injured, one seriously and semi-permanently. This is not supposed to be the way it is here. In Williamstown. In the Purple Bubble.