Police Discuss Rally With Organizers, Plan Coverage Of Event

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Police are planning their presence at a rally to protest the purchase of a new home for the Ohio University president.

Police and organizers of the Bat Rally, to be held at 5 p.m. Tuesday, have already discussed ways to protest without causing a police intervention, according to sources from both the rally and the police department.

“We will work with organizers to the best of our ability to ensure their first amendment rights are protected, as well as their safety, and that of the broader community,” said Lt. Tim Ryan, of the OUPD, in an email to WOUB News.

The rally was organized by the Ohio University Student Union, and has received responses from nearly 800 people saying they will attend, according to the Bat Rally event’s Facebook page.

Ryan declined to discuss specific details about what strategies police have to cover the event, but said police planned to meet with organizers to discuss making the event “safe and lawful.”

The event was created in response to the lease-to-buy agreement entered into by the Ohio University Foundation for a $1.2 million home on Coventry Lane, in which President Roderick McDavis currently lives, according to media reports.

Protesters are planning on meeting in front of McDavis’ former residence, the on-campus president’s house, at 29 Park Place. According to McDavis’ contract, he is required to live in the home, however he told trustees and media that bats had infested the home and caused injury to his wife, First Lady Deborah McDavis.

The Ohio University Board of Trustees voted in a decision that was not listed on the agenda for their March meeting, to have the Park Place residence assessed and find “alternate housing” for the McDavises. The home on Coventry Lane is being leased through owner John Wharton.

In a post to the Bat Rally Facebook page on Tuesday, the Ohio University Student Union advised attendees to be aware of the police presence, and said they have been in contact with the Athens Police Department as well.

“There was simply not enough time to (obtain) a permit, so we readily encourage everyone to stay out of the streets during this rally unless you want to risk being arrested,” the post stated.