A popular Michigan math and physics professor will soon stand trial in Detroit’s 36th District Court for trespassing in a public space at his own place of employment.
Scott Boman, professor at Wayne County Community College District (WCCCD), claims that the trespassing charges against him were politically motivated and were filed after he was attacked by police officers at the school.
Boman, Vice-Chairman of the Libertarian Party of Michigan, recently rejected the prosecutor’s offer to drop the trespassing charge if he would concede that his arrest was justified.
After Boman refused the prosecutor’s deal, Judge Roberta Archer denied a motion to dismiss the charges, which was filed by Boman’s attorney Douglas Hamel.
The professor’s pretrial hearing will be held on January 15, and he will have a jury trial on January 29. Both are scheduled for 8:30 am at the 36th District Court, which is located at 421 Madison in Detroit.
Boman assaulted for documenting election law violations
Boman, a candidate for Detroit City Clerk at the time of the incident, has extensively documented his story online.
According to his accounts, after teaching class on July 30, Boman stopped by an absentee voting event being held at the WCCCD Northwest Campus.
When he arrived at the voting event, Boman began taking pictures of signs that were posted by the incumbent City Clerk Janet Winfrey. These signs were in violation of election laws. For example, one sign was hanging over the entrance of the voting location’s building entrance.
As soon as Boman started taking pictures of the illegal signs, WCCCD Security Officer Olivia Moss-Fort stormed out of the polling place and shouted, “What do you think you’re doing?”
Boman responded that he was taking pictures, and continued to do so since the officer would not tell him which law he was violating. He also began recording a conversation which he had started with a poll worker regarding his concerns.
Boman then attempted to join other candidates and volunteers who were handing out campaign literature in the area. While Boman was passing out his cards, he says that Moss-Fort swatted his hand, and two or three additional officers threw him to the ground, breaking the skin on his right shoulder. He was then cuffed and led away.
“I lost control of my right arm,” he said. “They kept me bound, isolated and without water for 3.25 hours, to intimidate me from attending a candidate forum.” He also said that the officers laughed at him while he was stuck in handcuffs.
By the time his camera was returned, incriminating video he took of the police was deleted.
Boman’s supporters have posted an online petition on his behalf.
WCCCD officials tell a different story
There are no tapes or recordings of the incident, according to WCCCD spokesperson Tina Bassett.
This lack of evidence is curious since there is a 24 hour security camera covering the entire welcome area, according to an on-duty WCCCD security officer.
Bassett also stated that WCCCD professors and employees are allowed to enter campus buildings when they are open. In addition, she said that Boman was allowed to pass out his campaign literature in the designated area.
“What Mr. Boman was not allowed to do was photograph students on campus without their permission,” she said.
“Students complained to the campus security officers that Mr. Boman was photographing them.They asked him to stop. He was escorted from the area after he refused to accommodate the students’ requests to not be photographed.”
Area watchdogs alarmed by case
This case has been covered extensively by news and watchdog websites, and more details can be found in the following stories:
- Police assault, bind clerk candidate for 3.5 hours in Detroit.
- Detroit Clerk Candidate Assaulted, Wounded, By WCCCD Police.
- Candidate Says He Was Assaulted By Campus Safety Officers.
- WCCC professor, city clerk candidate claims he was assaulted by school security officers.
Libertarian party leadership outraged
This issue has also outraged the Libertarian party leadership. Chairperson Mary Buzuma wrote the statement below:
As Chair of the Libertarian Party of Michigan and a concerned citizen, I am shocked and angered by the treatment of the candidate for Detroit City Clerk, Scott Boman.
He was acting completely within his rights as a taxpayer, citizen and political candidate. He was not trespassing, as he was outside the legal boundary of a polling station.
I have many questions, but primarily: was it the fact he was taking photographs? Or was it the object of his photographs that was cause for concern?
The conduct of the Wayne County Community College District Security Police Authority was abusive, unprofessional and not within the high standards the department sets for itself.
The Libertarian Party is dedicated to preserving the civil liberties of all citizens, and exposing government waste, fraud and abuse when we see it.
We will not be intimidated by those who choose to misuse their authority. We will be filing a formal complaint, and expect the people involved in the abusive treatment of Mr. Boman to face disciplinary action.
Chair, Libertarian Party of Michigan