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Rowdy server disrupts campus event

A firetruck, two police cars, and an ambulance arrived at 9 p.m. on Sept. 26 in response to the situation. (Melodie Miu)
An ambulance and a firetruck arrived at the event to take the server away. (Melodie Miu)

A man working as a server for a catering company during Mills College’s Alumni Weekend was arrested by the Oakland Police on charges of drunk and disorderly conduct after allegedly launching a tirade at several people on campus and disrupting traffic on Sept. 25.

Much of the disturbance was vocal and began in the reunion dinner the man was servicing; his agitation escalated after he left the dinner, witnesses said.

Liz Hawkyard, a former Mills student who was on campus visiting her girlfriend, noticed the man near the Lisser Hall parking lot around 8:20 p.m., where he stood speaking on his phone before entering Kapiolani Road, still on his phone, claiming loudly, “I’m the event coordinator.”

Hawkyard saw the man halt a car that had turned south on Kapiolani Road by standing in front of it and then banging on the hood of the car, repeatedly asking, “What’s happening?”

“He was losing his grip,” Hawkyard said. “He was not on the same plane as I was.” But, she added, “I didn’t think he was drunk.”

Earlier that evening, other staffers at the reunion dinner said that they had smelled alcohol on the man’s breath, but witnesses who encountered him said his intoxication seemed more layered than drunkenness — his speech was not slurred, for example, though he also did not seem in control of his behavior.

“Everyone does not exhibit the same symptoms when intoxicated whether on alcohol, illegal drugs or prescription drugs,” said Niviece Robinson, Director of Public Safety. “This may be a good opportunity to educate the community about responsible drinking.” 

Hawkyard said the man tried to speak to her, and when she didn’t respond, he yelled, “Bitch, you’re not even gonna say hi to me?”

Hawkyard noted that all of this, including a second car pulling behind the first and honking, took place near the information booth at the “T” where workers were stationed for Alumni Weekend to provide assistance to campus visitors. The disruption caused by the man did not immediately attract their attention.

Hawkyard said she flagged down a passing golf cart — used for campus events to transport visitors —  and that the people in the cart talked to him and calmed him down, letting the cars pass.

When the two people manning the booth came over, Hawkyard said they got the man to move onto the sidewalk.

“The people who were talking to him didn’t seem to be on edge about what was happening,” Hawkyard said.

She said that Mills Public Safety was slow to respond to the disturbance; as she continued to her car, which was parked in the commuter lot, Hawkyard did not see any officers arrive at the scene.

But another witness who was volunteering at the reunion dinner said that Public Safety was aware of the problem, that the man had “fled” the dinner and hid in some bushes and that officers were actively searching the campus for him.

“He had been showing some weird behavior during the dinner he was staffing,” said the alumnus, who wished to remain anonymous. “He had dropped a tray of food,” and the alum had heard he was making “weird comments” to his coworkers.

This behavior continued when the man went outside, the alum said. He tried to speak with another volunteer driving an alum in a golf cart, and when the driver “realized that he was not in a state of mind that she wanted to have an alum around him,” she began to pull away and the man yelled after them, “You f—— c—s!”

Jack Elliott, an alum who was volunteering with Alumni Relations, was delivering some floral arrangements back to the Reinhardt Alumni House in a golf cart when he encountered the man, sitting with two Public Safety officers. Elliott had slowed to talk to Public Safety, and when he began to drive away the man bolted after him yelling, “Dude, you have to help me!”

“He jumped into the cart and tried to grab me,” Elliott said. “He held onto the steering wheel and had knocked a bunch of arrangements over…. His eyes were just crazy, and all three of us had to pry his hands off the steering wheel.”

Elliott said that at this point the officers had the man pinned against the cart “because he could not control himself.”

Elliott assured him, saying, “I trust these guys, you’re safe. You just have to relax,” to which the man kept asking, “But what’s going on?”

“It did not seem as though that would be something he would do if he were not under the influence,” Elliott said.

At 9 p.m., an ambulance and a fire truck arrived to remove the man. According to an Oakland Police officer at the scene, the situation was under control and the man was “just a drunk guy.”

Contributing reporting by Melodie Miu,