Tuesday, 29 Sep 2020

Santa Clara University investigating after Black professor details harassment by campus security

The president of Santa Clara University in California issued an apology on Sunday and launched an investigation after a Black assistant professor said she and her brother were harassed in a racially motivated encounter with campus security over the weekend.

Danielle Fuentes Morgan, an assistant professor in the university’s English department, detailed the incident on Saturday in a 21-part Twitter thread that was retweeted tens of thousands of times.

Morgan said her brother, who was visiting, was sitting outside on campus with his laptop for a work meeting when campus security officers approached and told him to move along. Then they followed him to the street, she said, where four security cars were present. She said her brother proceeded to her house.

“I opened the door and my brother said, “I’m so sorry about this. They’re demanding you come out and vouch for me.” I, of course, knew exactly who ‘they’ were,” Morgan wrote.

She claimed one officer “very aggressively” demanded to see her campus ID “to prove you are who he says you are and that you actually live here.” She said her husband, who is white, told the officer she was not obligated to show it, prompting the officer to call his supervisor.

When she asked the officer to explain the issue, he claimed her brother was acting “suspicious”:

“My husband told them that this was anti-Black and despicable. He told them that they don’t harass anyone white on campus, ever,” Morgan added. “He told them they only harass Black students and faculty, and that following him to a second and third location was punitive.”

She said her neighbor then came over and vouched for her living there:

When her husband asked officers how their family should act in order to not be harassed, Morgan said the officers advised them to “stay in open spaces.” 

“That answer is unclear and insufficient, and I am concerned now to go back to campus AND to live in this house,” she said.

SCU President Kevin O’Brien has since issued a statement, saying he is “deeply sorry” and that an internal investigation was underway:

It’s unclear what repercussions the campus security officers might face for the incident. HuffPost has reached out to USC for comment.

In a Change.org petition directed at university leadership, faculty and staff members called for an independent investigation, comprehensive review of USC’s management and culture and consideration of defunding police activity on campus.

“We are profoundly saddened and angered by this incident and the behavior of these ‘Safety’ officers,” the petition states. “At a time when the entire nation is focused on the impact of generations of abuse of communities of color by the police, it is particularly appalling that such an incident took place on our campus, which has been so strongly associated with social justice and equity here in the United States and around the world.”

  • This article originally appeared on HuffPost.

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