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Jury finds Keenan guilty of trespassing on college farm

Claremont resident and former city council candidate Michael Keenan was found guilty Tuesday for trespassing, following an arrest at the Pomona College Organic Farm last year.

Claremont Police arrested Mr. Keenan in September for entering farm grounds after being issued previous warnings to not return. Jury deliberation for Mr. Keenan’s trial began Monday.

Mr. Keenan claimed he had staged the arrest because of what he sees as the college’s unfriendly attitude towards Claremont community members wanting to help out with the farm.  The colleges have cracked down on who gains entrance to the farm over the past several years because of problems with crime and safety.

“These are 18 to 22 year olds, and we have to provide safety,” said Professor Richard Hazlett, head of the Environmental Analysis program, in a previous interview. “People in the past felt really threatened. Wide-eyed freshman wanting to go down and plant with other people making it spooky from time to time is not an optimal college farm. We had to do something.”

Access to the farm now requires a Farm I.D., issued by Pomona College officials, and is primarily for use of the students though community members may apply.

“There was a time in the early years where community members played a really active role, and at present that membership is still encouraged, but the primary function is to provide a service for the students,” said Professor Richard Hazlett, head of the Environmental Analysis program, in a previous interview. “It wasn’t meant to be open to the public like a community garden.”

Mr. Keenan had been denied an I.D. Pomona College because of several previous “incidents of disruption” involving Mr. Keenan and campus safety on the farm, according to Cynthia Peters, Pomona College’s communications director, in a previous statement.

—Beth Hartnett

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