Lolade Siyonbola, the woman at the center of the #YaleWhileBlack incident, is speaking out after she had the police called on her by a white woman after she fell asleep in the school’s common area—something that’s pretty typical for exhausted college students turned into an unnecessary confrontation with police at Yale.
The 34-year-old graduate student says she feared for her life, especially after recent incidents where Black people have been confronted by police ended in a Black person being killed or brutalized, the Atlanta Black Star reports.
Siyonbola posted the video of the encounter and it went viral on social media.
“I posted the video just for my safety,” she told “Good Morning America”.
She added, “I have always said to myself since Sandra Bland was killed. I said to myself if I ever have an encounter with police I’ll film myself.” Bland was a 28-year-old Black woman who police claim killed herself while in police custody for a traffic violation in 2015.
Even though Lolade Siyonbola showed police the key to her room, they still interrogated her for a good 20 minutes.
The white woman who instigated the 911 call, Sarah Braasch, has a history of harassing Black students.
“It had already been like a stressful week, you know, ahead of this,” Siyonbola told the news outlet. “I had barely been sleeping, so to sort of be on the couch and for the lights to come on, I was like, ‘Who is interrupting my nap?’ after all and to see that it was Sarah, of all people, because she had called the police on my friend before. I was just like, ‘You’ve got to be kidding me.’… I just went with God and said, ‘Whatever’s meant to be will be,’ but it’s just mind-boggling that you know somebody could behave like this.”
Siyonbola wants to see people like Braash punished.
“Someone who uses the police in the way that Sarah uses it should be held accountable… Whether that’s expulsion [or] some other form of disciplinary action, there needs to be some punitive measures for people who act out of racially motivated bias…. If there are punitive measures I think someone like Sarah will think twice about calling the police,” the Ivy League student added.
Lolade Siyonbola hopes Yale will work on “becoming a more inclusive place.”
“There is a very small number of Black faculty at Yale… And I think that that would go a long way to improving the inclusivity of the climate at Yale.”