Pedestrians lash out on passing vehicles

by Kristin Gustafson

Two University students were arrested and charged Friday with vandalizing six automobiles near Washington Avenue and Harvard Street during afternoon rush hour.
Ima Walker and Stephen Lightfoot, both second-year civil engineering students, painted at least six cars as they turned north on Harvard Street.
“We were just fed up from studying theory, theory, theory for our finals,” said Walker. “We needed to make our mark.”
Police said witnesses reported Walker stood in front of each automobile yelling at drivers while Lightfoot spraypainted the passenger door with the words “peds rule.”
“We should have warned them this was coming,” said Karin Driver, a University associate instructor for Walker’s Introduction to Transportation Analysis class. “She wrote it out in detail in her mid-term paper,” Driver said. “But we didn’t think she would do it.”
Walker said they graded her paper a C. “I deserved an A,” she said.
Walker said she first came up with the idea after her civil engineering lab accidentally showed a film on civil disobedience. “I couldn’t sleep after that,” she said. “I knew something needed to be done.”
Walker and Lightfoot intend to plead not guilty on the basis of self-defense, the attorney for both students said Saturday. Both Walker and Lightfoot are being held without bail at the Hennepin County Detention Center.
“Something had to be done,” Walker said. She said she told each driver to yield and only signalled to Lightfoot to paint if the drivers refused. She denied allegations of kicking at the headlights as some drivers reported to police.
“I don’t understand why we were the ones arrested,” because the pedestrians had the right of way, he said. “It said `Walk,’ and that is exactly what we were doing.”
Police confirmed that the stoplight’s arrow and green light is displayed before the walk signal appears. However, University Police would not comment on alleged turn violations.
The protest was videotaped, Walker said, but police refused to review it as evidence.
The yellow paint on August Fumer’s maroon 1992 Saturn was still wet Friday evening. “I had the green arrow,” Fumer said, a first-year College of Liberal Arts student.
However, after he saw Walker’s video, Fumer said he was late for class and needed to turn. He refused further comment.
University Police announced Saturday that they are looking at plans to hire additional officers to monitor future protests.
“We won’t stop until the drivers do,” said Walker.