Last September, three individuals were arrested while participating in a dance protest on campus. A settlement was reached at the end of April, and all three of the arrestees avoided jail time. The dance party, consisting of approximately 125 people, occurred at around 9:30 p.m. in the Porter Quad. It was one in a series of dance protests that were held in response to fee increases and budget hikes.
The three individuals arrested were Emma Curtis, Kaci Cole and Eric Cuffney, none of whom were UC students. Cuffney and Curtis were in and out of court over 10 times over the last six months, and Cuffney was given a monetary punishment and probation.
“What it really comes down to is money,” Cuffney said. “I had to pay $560, and I’m on probation for two years.”
Cuffney was arrested and charged with carrying a weapon, a blunt shaving razor. This charge was later dropped. He was also charged with assaulting an officer and resisting arrest. Cuffney said he was not given any warning before he was grabbed.
“I was just standing there, and all of a sudden somebody’s grabbing me and trying to throw me to the ground. They didn’t identify themselves. It could have been anybody,” Cuffney said. During this exchange, Cuffney was temporarily knocked unconscious. “I woke up with her [the officer] binding my arms behind my back. At that point, yes, I did realize it was a cop.”
Curtis was charged with “lynching” — trying to free someone who’s been arrested — and resisting arrest.
“I got down on my knees, asking him if he was okay,” Curtis said. “I tried to pull his shoulders up from the ground, and then they arrested me.”
Anthony Robinson, Cuffney’s attorney, said the trial worked out as well as could be expected for Cuffney, and emphasized the importance of witnesses to Cuffney’s case.
“There were a number of student witnesses who had seen the event and recounted it in a very different way than the police had,” Robinson said. “Once the DA reviewed their statements, they realized they weren’t going to be able to prove resisting arrest. The problem with the resisting-an-officer charge was that you’d really need to know they were officers.”