Following President Barack Obama’s announcement that al-Qaeda leader Osama bin Laden was killed by American forces, approximately 300 students flocked to the Sunken Garden in celebration.
The crowd of students continued to grow creating a celebratory rally in the Sunken Garden as the William and Mary police surveyed the scene. Rallying turned into controversy as a Findley Parke ’11 drove his car onto the Sunken Garden blasting music while waving an American flag out of the sunroof.
“I was with the crowd and then I noticed that there was a key element missing,” Parke said. “I drove out into the middle of the Sunken Garden, turned up the speakers and everyone seemed to be enjoying it.”
William and Mary police, who had been overlooking the crowd, quickly took over. A police car blocked the gate to the Sunken Garden, stopping Park from exiting.
“I drove very slowly when I got in the Sunken Garden. The gates were already open,” Parke said. “The police officer was kind enough to be like, ‘Look, you should probably leave,’ but as I came back to the gates another police officer came out of his car and was a little more aggressive.”
Police officers issued Parke a ticket for reckless driving and endangerment of lives.
Requests for comments from William and Mary police were immediately not returned.
Students followed Parke and the car towards the end of the Sunken Garden, chanting, “Let him go!” When students found out Parke received a ticket, they began to collect donations for him.
“He was blasting music and having a good time, and then I guess the cops had a problem with him being there,” Ian Kingsbury ’13 said. “They came over to talked to him. Then everyone followed the car out here. They were pissed that the cops made him stop.”
Students watching the situation quickly rallied around Parke.
“Most of the crowd were bystanders,” Chris Beacham ’13 said. “It was pretty ballsy of him to play music as he drove away.”
Nick Shmedding ’12 questioned the celebrations.
“I understand that Osama bin Laden is a major mass murderer and he deserved to be brought to justice, but I don’t think it is reasonable that we are celebrating quite this unreservedly,” Schmedding said.