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“All I did was be black”: Smith College employee calls cops on student eating lunch

She's demanding the administration identify the person who called 911 on her.

by Emma Ockerman
Aug 2 2018, 11:30am

A black student was sitting in a common room at Smith College on Tuesday when an employee called the police and reported her as “out of place.”

The student, however, said she’s working over the summer at the private women’s liberal arts school and was just reading and eating lunch.

“All I did was be black,” she wrote in a Facebook post that demanded the administration identify the person who called 911. The student did not immediately respond to a request for comment from VICE News.

In a video posted to be Facebook, the campus police officer who responded to the call can be heard asking the student what she was doing in the common room. “Stuff like this happens way too often, where people just feel, like, threatened,” the student tells the officer in the video, which has since been shared by 1,300 Facebook users.

The student said the officer apologized on behalf of the person who called the police on her. The officer was unarmed, like all Smith College campus police, according to the Boston Globe.

Despite the student’s demands, the college said releasing the name of the caller would violate the school’s policy. The incident is still under investigation, Samuel Masinter, a spokesman for the college, told VICE News.

“The college has been working since before this incident to expand existing anti-bias trainings for all faculty, staff and students,” Masinter added. “We expect to have more details on that shortly.”

Smith College, located in Northampton, Massachusetts, told the Boston Globe there was “nothing suspicious about the student’s presence.” But her story adds to a string of instances in which people have reported black people doing routine things, like knocking on doors because they’re running for office, taking a nap in a common room at Yale University or using a local pool.

“No student of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions. I worked my hardest to get into Smith, and I deserve to feel safe on my campus,” the student said in a Facebook post.

Cover image: Smith College in Northhampton, Massachusetts. (MacAllenBrothers via Wikimedia Commons)

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