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Lansdowne locals undeterred by alleged assault on police officer

Posted by Emily Files  November 1, 2012 12:18 PM

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Despite the recent arrest of a 19-year-old for allegedly assaulting a police officer on Lansdowne Street, people here say the home to Fenway Park, Lansdowne Pub, and House of Blues feels safe.

Police Officer Adam DiPerri arrested John Higgins, a South Boston resident, on Oct. 11 at House of Blues. Higgins was arraigned at Roxbury District Court the following day on three counts of alleged assault and battery on a police officer, assault and battery, and disorderly conduct, according to court records. Higgins was released on his own recognizance that same day without posting bail, and he is due back in court Dec. 11 for a pre-trial hearing.

On the night of the incident, House of Blues production manager Chris Russell asked people waiting in line at the venue to move away from a garage entrance. That’s when Higgins, who had come back into the line, “got into the face of Mr. Russell,” according to the police report.

Boston police officers advised Higgins to leave on four occasions, but Higgins came back. On his third confrontation with police officers, Higgins, who appeared highly intoxicated, according to the report, charged at the officers. Police handcuffed him, calmed him down, and told him he could leave without arrest. But Higgins came back once more.

“Showing great discretion and tolerance, Officer DiPerri even attempted to let Mr. Higgins take a taxi and leave to avoid arrest,” the report said. But when Higgins got out of the taxi, DiPerri arrested him.

Boston Police Department spokesperson David Estrada wrote in an Oct. 23 e-mail that occasional arrests do occur in the area. BPD increases its police presence in Fenway during Red Sox games and special events, he wrote.

“The BPD also works with Fenway Park security as well as restaurants and nightclubs on Lansdowne Street to address any ongoing issues or complaints of criminal activity,” Estrada wrote.

Susannah Clark, a 26-year-old Cambridge resident headed to House of Blues last Thursday night, said she goes to the venue for a couple shows a year.

“After Red Sox games I have seen crazy behavior, but not at the House of Blues specifically,” Clark said, adding she feels safe on Lansdowne Street. “There are a lot of people around, so I feel like even if something did happen, someone else would see it.”

Kurt Zwald and Kim Ang, both 28-year-old residents of Brookline, also in Fenway last Thursday night, said they come for the occasional game or to eat. Zwald said the area used to be more run down when he studied at Boston College in 2002.

“Now I feel pretty safe over there. My only concern is the drunk post-concert crowd. I think that’s where you might get into trouble, [but] not mugged or anything like that,” Zwald said.

Courtney Haskell, a 26-year-old Fenway resident said she often went to Lansdowne Pub and House of Blues when she was a student at Northeastern University four years ago. Even if there were more incidents like Higgins’ case, Haskell, who has lived in several different Boston neighborhoods since she was 18 years old, said she would keep going to the venue.

“[I am] kind of used to it,” Haskell said. “I would avoid [the area] because there are a lot of people, not because I don’t feel safe.”

Higgins, who is not believed to have a prior arrest record, was unreachable for comment and it is unclear who is his attorney; he had a court-appointed attorney for the Oct. 12 arraignment and it was noted by the court that he intended to get private counsel for the Dec. 11 court date, according to the Suffolk County District Attorney’s press office.

Live Nation, which owns House of Blues, and Russell declined to comment.

This article is being published under an arrangement between the Boston Globe and the Boston University News Service.

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