On March 8 and 9, 2007, members of the Soulforce Equality Ride visited Notre
Dame to promote greater tolerance and acceptance of gay, lesbian and bisexual
Soulforce members and several students gathered on campus to encourage dialogue
about gay rights issues, according to the activists. The Soulforce members were
issued trespassing notices and told by campus police to leave, which they did,
said Delfin Bautista, one of the activists who participated.
The group returned the following day planning to place wreaths near the statue
of Notre Dame graduate Dr. Tom Dooley at the Grotto.
They were stopped as they walked onto campus, and they were told to leave,
Bautista said in a telephone interview Friday. Bautista said that when they
refused, he and five others were told by campus police officers that they were
under arrest for trespassing.
They were taken to the campus security building, where they were confined to a
room and their photos were taken, he said. They were not taken to jail. An hour
or so later, campus police transferred the six into a van and drove them back to
their hotel, Bautista said.
Campus police said they should expect to receive a notice from St. Joseph County
of when they would be required to appear in court to face the charges, but that
never happened, Bautista said.
"We never heard another word," said Bautista, who is a student at Yale Divinity
Bautista said he still has two identical yellow slips of paper — Notre Dame
trespass notices — he received on those two days. They are marked with the date
and time and stamped with the signature of William Kirk, Notre Dame's associate
vice president of residence life.
Bautista doesn't believe he and the other Soulforce members actually were
arrested. "It was just a setup to get us off campus," he said.
Soulforce activist Haven Herrin, of Minneapolis, stated those same basic facts
in an interview Friday. Although she and other group members were handed
trespass notices and told they were under arrest, nothing came of it, she said.
"We never had to go to court or pay a fine, and it's not on our records. They
did not follow through on it," Herrin said. "I think they were trying to make it
clear they didn't want us on campus, but they didn't want the hullabaloo of an
Court officials point out that trespassing citations are different from written
warnings issued by property owners to trespassers.
Official trespassing citations from police require an offender to appear in
court, according to St. Joseph County Prosecutor Michael Dvorak. The citations
then go to the prosecutor's office to be processed.
A warning from a place of business or private property owner generally states a
person is trespassing and must not return. If the person fails to comply and
returns to the property, owners must be able to prove they issued a prior
warning either in print, or verbally, to the offender.