Auburn police stationed a Sky Watch manned mobile surveillance tower equipped with security cameras at Toomer’s Corner Wednesday afternoon in preparation for the Iron Bowl this Saturday.
“It’s some homeland security equipment that we’re just making use of,” said Auburn Police Captain Tommy Carswell. “We’ve just moved that one to Toomer’s Corner to beef up our security there thinking it may play a role in what we need to do.”
Carswell said that placing the tower downtown isn’t necessarily in response to Internet rumors that Alabama fans are planning to roll Toomer’s Corner in the event of an Alabama win on Saturday, but simply a deterrent to any fan behavior that might jeopardize public safety.
“We don’t want fans fighting or drunks falling out in the street…. it’s there to serve a number of purposes,” he said. “I don’t know if there’s a concrete or tangible reason for putting it there, but we’ll be doing some recording there. This thing about poisoning the tree—I don’t think anybody else is is trying to do that but if so we very well may have it recorded.”
Alabama fans might be kept from directly harming the Toomer’s Oaks, but would they have the legal right to roll Toomer’s Corner?
Carswell says yes.
“Our goal is not to say no Alabama fan can throw toilet paper. It’s not illegal for an Alabama fan to throw toilet paper any more than it is for an Auburn fan to throw toilet paper.”
“We’re going to do our jobs without violating anybody’s rights.”
But were Alabama to win, and if an Alabama fan were to try to roll Toomer’s Corner with toilet paper, they would be doing so at their own risk, at least when it comes to traffic—police do not block off the corner of College Street and Magnolia Avenue when Auburn loses.
“We don’t have any plans of closing off the corner if Alabama wins,” Carswell said. “We do if Auburn wins. That’s our call.”
Carswell said the “residual effect” of keeping the streets open would likely keep the trees free of toilet paper from Alabama fans.
“If someone else wins, we’re not making the decision to close it off and let them have it for an hour. All the roads will remain open. Now, if it comes to a point where the roads are open but someone is doing or causing something that’s keeping traffic from coming through, that’s an arrestable offense.”
Carswell said police are preparing for the worst but hoping for the best.
“Our first concern is preventing a breach of the peace and somebody getting hurt,” he said. “That’s why [the Sky Watch tower] is there, to keep the peace.”
Photo via Ashley Belcher.
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