Thursday, July 2, 2020

Arrests, threat, disorderly conduct among welcome week crime

September 5, 2019
Students make their way to the bars on Sept. 1, 2019 in East Lansing.  (Sylvia Jarrus/The State News)
Students make their way to the bars on Sept. 1, 2019 in East Lansing. (Sylvia Jarrus/The State News) —
Photo by Sylvia Jarrus | The State News

Fall welcome week can be a time for new beginnings at Michigan State. Incoming freshmen and outgoing seniors alike try out their alcohol tolerance like trying on back to school clothes, and sometimes are met with the flashing red and blue lights of local law enforcement.

Over the course of fall welcome week, the MSU and East Lansing Police Departments reported a total of 42 arrests. This number is lower than in previous years, Deputy Chief Steve Gonzalez said.

“There were certainly some arrests and some parties and problems that we had to deal with that come with every fall welcome period, but there was nothing that was out of control,” Gonzalez said. “There was nothing that was excessive in our view. It went as expected. Overall, it was a pretty mild fall welcome.”

Amid the week’s events, ELPD hopped on the popular internet trend “there ain’t no laws when you’re drinking claws,” to remind students that is not a valid legal argument.

Citations for open alcohol swelled to six incidents during the week — a slight uptick — all resulting in arrest.

At the same time, White Claws and other hard seltzers have become a popular choice of drink among college-aged people. According to Nielsen data, hard seltzers saw a 193% increase in sales in the past year. Gonzalez said it’s more likely the nice weather during the week that contributed to individuals carrying around open alcohol containers, but the 5% alcohol by volume beverage may not have helped. 

“I don’t know if people associate those with alcohol drinks or standard beer, open beer or something like that,” Gonzalez said. “While the White Claws and things like that are kind of new on the market this year, way back when I started here, wine coolers like Bartles & Jaymes were the rage and you carried those around as well.”

In order to subdue some of the first week of school debauchery, MSU shortened the amount of time between Fall Convocation and the start of classes in 2009. MSU’s administration rebranded “Welcome Week” into “Fall Welcome” and instead of a five-day gap, there is now a three-day gap. 

Nine out of the 10 disorderly conduct charges during the week were paired with arrests, as Gonzalez said it is rare for someone to be issued a disorderly conduct citation and then be sent on their way. 

There are over 30 acts in East Lansing ordinances that can result in the disorderly conduct charge, including loitering, indecent exposure, fighting in public and window peeping.

There were seven reports of assault and battery, none resulting in arrest.

One arrest for disturbing the peace took place at Phi Gamma Delta Fraternity on Grand River Avenue due to a misdemeanor noise violation on Aug. 28.

A first-degree sexual assault was reported at another frat house, FarmHouse, on Aug. 30. Gonzalez said ELPD detectives are investigating the incident.

As for on campus, things were relatively calm and MSUPD kept busy with answering questions for those new to the university, MSUPD Captain Doug Monette said.

On MSU’s campus, there were 12 larcenies and two burglaries, according to MSUPD records. An incident of damage to property at Jenison Field House reported on Aug. 27 is under an open and ongoing investigation. 

Friday is a busy time for MSUPD and the various local agencies that come to East Lansing to offer their services. Monette said the game day on Friday was calm overall.

“It went really well. It was busy. Any time you have a Friday work day with a Friday football game, it’s a busy time,” Monette said. “There’s a lot of excitement in the air, but yet there’s a little bit of the unknown just because there’s a lot of people on campus who aren’t from here, so there are a lot of questions that we respond to.” 

Two MSU students were charged last week with threatening terrorism toward MSU President Samuel L. Stanley Jr. Jennifer Spicer, 20, and Rami Souguir, 19 are accused of making a post on Reddit threatening President Samuel Stanley. Jr, Chris Wickman — attorney for Souguir — said. He said the post was intended as a joke, but has resulted in charges of terrorism.

Nichols Law Firm put out a video that Wickman said until new information comes to light, is his firm’s statement on the case.

“I had to watch two families grieving in an East Lansing courtroom this week, the parents of our client Rami, the other parents, as their children were arraigned on two 20-year felony charges, a gross overcharging decision in my humble opinion,” Michael J. Nichols said. “Such a great kid, so excited to come to the university, this is disappointing.”

There’s a no-contact order for the students from President Stanley and his family, according to court records. MSUPD has since said that after investigation, there is no current concern for campus safety.

The alleged terrorist threat on Monday was on the minds of law enforcement officers during the past week, Gonzalez said.

There are a lot of unseen actions local law enforcement takes to keep the East Lansing community safe, Gonzalez said, along with actions like setting up barricades on the roads during outdoor events, a relatively new practice. 

“Especially over the last year or two, with the active violence incidents that we have seen flourish across the country, it is something we discuss here internally quite a bit.”

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