Boston's Berklee College Apologizes for Letting On-Duty Police Use Their Bathrooms

If you're not familiar with it, Berklee College of Music is one of the major art schools in the Northeast, if not in the country. Its alumni are as diverse as Melissa Etheridge, Bradley Whitford of Aerosmith and Howard Shore, the genius behind some of the greatest scores in movie history, "The Lord of the Rings" trilogy. 

Berklee is right downtown, on Mass Ave. The Boston Marathon's final couple of miles go right past its doors. If you're anywhere between Kemore and Copley Squares and see someone carrying a guitar or violin case, there's a 99% chance they're enrolled there. 

And apparently during the demonstrations last week, someone at the school must have allowed the Boston PD who were assigned to keep the march peaceful to use the bathrooms. Because Berklee has issued a public apology.

Source - Leaders at the Berklee College of Music have apologized for allowing Boston police to use restrooms at the campus concert hall as violence erupted on city streets following peaceful protests against the killings of Black Americans on May 31.

The decision by Berklee Public Safety staff to allow officers staged at Massachusetts Avenue and Boylston Street to use the Berklee Performance Center’s restrooms was “not a formal decision by the institution, but an informal one, made on the spot,” Berklee President Roger H. Brown, Senior Vice President for Administration and Finance Mac Hisey, and Police Chief David Ransom said in a statement posted to Facebook Wednesday night. 

“Some have asked if the campus was used to house or stage activity of the Boston Police; it was not,” they added. ...

The officials said members of the campus community have expressed anger, pain, and a feeling of betrayal because police were given access to the building, particularly because the concert hall is closed to students due to the coronavirus pandemic.

“Allowing police officers into the space was in no way meant to undermine Berklee’s support for Black Lives Matter,” Brown, Hisey, and Ransom said in the statement.

They said the officers should not have been allowed to use the restrooms, and that police would not be permitted to do so in the future.

America 2020, ladies and gentlemen. Where being outraged at the murder of George Floyd, demanding widespread reforms like uniform training in the use of force across all departments, and pressuring lawmakers to make it easier to get corrupt maniacs like Derek Chavin off the force and into jail are not enough. 

In order to truly be heard, we have to deny police a bathroom. 

Even when they're on duty. Even when they're assigned to protect marchers and the rest of the public. Even in an institution that receives public funds. And that, apparently extends to all cops, because I didn't read anything in that formal apology letter about exceptions. So if you're Black, Latino, Asian, male, female or LGBTQ like so many members of the force are, and no matter where you stand on police reform, sorry. You'll just have to just go squat behind the dumpster. 

I can't help but think of the day of the Marathon Bombing, when these images of the Boston PD running into the smoke, fire and carnage went around the world:

And a few days later, during the manhunt in Watertown, I was getting texted by a former Barstool model who was under the shelter-in-place order and she was allowing the police to use her bathroom. (Note: They chose wisely.) I'm friends today with Sgt. Dic Donohue and emceed some events for his charitable foundation. He' the one who almost lost his life in the shootout and had to retire. 

And I'm just trying to imagine a publicly funded institution denying him a basic amenity and I can't picture it. But that was 2013. A lot has changed since then I suppose.

I also imagined that maybe the universal outrage over George Floyd and victims like him - one that is shared by responsible, professional LEOs working within the system to improve it - would unite the whole country behind the common cause. Seems like we missed that opportunity. On campus, anyway.

The ironic thing is that so much of social progress in this country has been fought on the battlefield of bathrooms as a basic human right. From segregated rest rooms in the Jim Crow South to trans people being allowed to use whichever one makes them comfortable. Recently Starbucks stopped requiring you to buy anything in order to use theirs. Those lines have been drawn and then erased by people of good conscience who believed a decent bathroom is a fundamental right that should belong to everybody. One of the few common experiences that applies to every single one of us.  And a pure good. But now the line has been redrawn to exclude all cops. At Berklee School of Music at least.

I guess to some, that's the price of change. And if you don't share their outrage over the janitor letting cops come in to go No. 1, I'm sure there'll be people who say you don't get why this is a step toward progress or maybe even lump you in with the white supremacists. My only question is, if some patrolman or woman asks to use the potty at Berklee and is told "no" but they use it anyway, who are Brown, Hisey, and Ransom going to call?