The employee who called police on a black girl eating lunch in a common room on campus during summer break has been placed on leave pending an investigation.
A statement from Smith College said the employee, who has not been identified, was not currently working at the college, and included a copy of the transcript of their call.
In the call, the employee said the student, Oumou Kanoute, ‘seems to be out of place’.
Kanoute, an undergraduate student at the Massachusetts private college, was on campus working in a summer program as a teaching assistant and residential adviser.
As the students on the summer program ate in a dining hall on Tuesday, Kanoute decided to take her food to a common room and eat alone in peace.
Within minutes of sitting down, she was confronted by a white police officer who asked: ‘We were wondering what you were doing here?’ after entering the common room.
Kanoute, who filmed their exchange and put the video on Facebook, nervously responded: ‘I was just eating my lunch.’
Later, the police officer calls back the dispatcher to let them know things are ‘all clear’, and no report would be filed.
‘That was a student relaxing in the living room,’ the officer said. ‘They had lunch here. I guess and they decided to stay for a while.’
Kanoute told CBS she no longer feels safe on campus, and wants the employee who called police fired.
‘It just still upsets me to just talk about it because I don’t even feel safe on my own campus and I’m away from home,’ she said through tears.
‘I’m the first in my family to go to college. I’m doing this not only for me but for my family, for my ancestors.
‘This shouldn’t happen to anyone at all.’
Kanoute issued a statement on the same day, and said placing the employee who called police on her on leave was not enough to placate her, and demanded she be able to face the person who called the police.
‘To Smith College: I recognize and appreciate the effort that you all continuously put into inclusion on this campus,’ she wrote in an open letter on her Facebook.
‘However, we must be intentional about addressing this racist incident and systemic racism on campus. Your response has been helpful, but it is incomplete.’
Kanoute made several ‘personal demands’ as a means of reparations. She asked for the name of the employee to be released – either publicly or just to her, and for a face-to-face meeting with the employee and representation from the school.
The meeting, she said, should be focused on ‘reconciliation and acknowledgement of this wrongdoing from the employee and the college’.
TRANSCRIPT OF CALL TO SMITH CAMPUS POLICE
July 31, 2018, 1:53 p.m.
Dispatch: Campus Police, recorded line.
Reporting Caller: I was just walking through here in the front foyer of [REDACTED] and we have a person sitting there laying down in the living room area over here. I didn’t approach her or anything but um he seems to be out of place … umm … I don’t see anybody in the building at this point and uh I don’t know what he’s doing in there just laying on the couch.
Dispatch: Can I have your last name please?
Reporting Caller: [REDACTED]
Dispatch: I’ll send someone over and check it out.
Reporting Caller: Alright. I’ll wait over here.
Responding Officer: All clear. That was a student relaxing in the living room. They had lunch here, I guess, and they decided to stay for a while.
The undergraduate student said she also wanted an apology – not only from the school, but from the person who felt they needed to call the police when they saw her in the common room.
‘This process must precede any type of decision for or against punishment for this outrageous and racist act,’ she wrote.
‘This process must also be accompanied by beginning a mandatory campus-wide conversation and new school policy concerning racism, gender, and policing that centers the voices of students and faculty of color when we return from summer vacation in Fall 2018.’
Smith has hired the Sanghavi Law Office as a third party to conduct their investigation into the incident.
‘The firm has extensive experience conducting civil rights investigations, including investigative experience at the United States Department of Education Office of Civil Rights,’ Friday’s statement read.
SOURCE: Daily Mail – Hannah Moore