Two months later, Chapel Hill Town Manager Roger Stancil has published his memorandum to the Town Council, outlining his "conclusions, actions and recommendations" related to the occupation of and subsequent police raid at the Yates Motor Company building on W. Franklin St. last November. It's an impressively bland endorsement of paramilitary police action, largely devoid of content. Stancil wastes no time in reaching the conclusion you may have expected him to reach—that the police did everything right and nothing wrong—and that if anything needs to happen as a result of these events, it's that the CHPD should adopt a new media relations policy.
If you're looking for any serious review and discussion of what happened on November 13 at Yates and the decision-making process leading up to it, you're going to be disappointed, because Stancil simply says that the "actions of the on-scene police commanders on November 13 were the best decisions that could be made given the information available at the time." It should go without saying that those are the words of a stenographer, not someone conducting a review of a controversial police action. Nowhere is there any acknowledgment of community concerns that the police unnecessarily escalated the situation by portraying the occupants of the Yates building as dangerous and by confronting a nonviolent civil action with a paramilitary unit more typically used in drug raids.
The memorandum and its numerous attachments reveal only a few pieces of information that are new to me:
- The decision to deploy SERT was made by Assistant Chief Leo Vereen, the same officer who was "confronted and partially surrounded" during the course of the CHPD's sole, failed attempt to communicate with the people inside Yates.
- CHPD denies that there was any coordination or communication with FBI or Homeland Security.
- CHPD gathered "intelligence" from other, unnamed municipal law enorcement agencies who were in town to monitor the Anarchist Book Fair.
In his own report, released as an attachment to Stancil's memo, CH Police Chief Blue states "there was no good alternative to the use of the SERT unit." This should have been an obvious starting point for Stancil—what does he mean there was no good alternative?—but instead he just copied some highlights from Blue's report and attached his own signature. It's hard to imagine Stancil making a better case for the need for an independent review than he has with this empty memorandum.
Many questions remain, including some from Jim Neal's petition of November 21, 2011. A response to Neal's peitition was posted as an attachment to Stancil's memorandum, but many of the petition's questions went unanswered.
- Why did the police have such poor-quality intelligence about the situation that they believed that deploying the SERT was necessary?
- How much impact did intelligence gathered from other municipal law enforcement agencies have on the decision to deploy SERT?
- Is it the policy of CHPD to treat all persons deemed to be "anarchists" as posing security and safety risks to the community?
- The building was condemned immediately after the police raid; if it was such a hazard, why had it not already been condemned?