On Saturday, November 12, 2011 we met Paul E. Summit, who was a law student at Harvard at the time of the protests in ’69.
Our interview with Paul had been planned long in advance of our Saturday meeting which was to take place at 9 AM on the steps of Harvard’s Widener library. We hoped he would walk us through the events of the ’69 strike from a first-hand perspective.
Two days prior to our meeting, in an unexpected turn of events, Harvard yard was occupied by a group of protesters affiliated with the Occupy Wall Street movement. In response to the protesters the administration had put the campus on lockdown with officers at every gate requesting strict identification and admitting only Harvard students and faculty. As such, when we arrived for the interview the officers at the gate informed us that Harvard library cards and MIT ID’s were not adequate identification to gain access to the yard. After explaining that we were meeting with a Harvard alumni for a meeting at the library the police officers conferred with each other and gave us provisional access providing that we went directly to the library. As we made our way toward Widener and met Paul, he suggested that we conduct our meeting (which we were recording) on the steps of the library. There he narrated the events of ’69 gesturing to the different parts of the yard in which these events unfolded. In the meantime police officers in large vehicles were surveilling the yard to monitor all people therein and in particular to ensure that the ranks of the protesters would not grow. Upon seeing us on the steps with recording equipment the police immediately confronted us.
Unfortunately, due to these circumstances, we were put in the very awkward position of being accused of disobedience ourselves in order to fulfill a simple and relatively straight-forward historical interview. Because the police interpreted our activities as counter to our stated purpose of meeting an alumni at the library (which is what transpired), we have now been added to a list of those charged with trespassing. They informed us that we are no longer welcome on the Harvard campus in any of the facilities, for any purpose, without first having these charges rescinded by the university’s chief of police.
Joining the march after the interview.