#WorkingWhileBlack: University employee harassed by police after someone calls 911 ‘agitated Black male’
A Black employee who has worked for the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the last 14 years is outraged
A Black employee who has worked for the University of Massachusetts Amherst for the last 14 years is outraged after he was racially profiled and came face to face with police when someone called 911 on him, The Massachusetts Daily Collegian reports.
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On Friday, Reg Andrade become the latest victim of having the cops called on him while Black, when someone sent up uncalled for red flags and phoned in a tip that “very agitated” Black man had entered a building on campus.
Those key words is what could get a Black man killed, and Andrade said he was doing nothing more than walking to the recreation center to work across campus like he has always done for the last 14 years. A transcript from the call described Andrade as African-American man who had walked into the Whitmore Administration Building with a “large duffel bag … hanging off a strap, very heavy hanging on the ground.”
Andrade is a case manager in the disability services office.
Police then shut down the campus and when Andrade emerged from a bathroom break, he was confronted by two plainclothes police officers who questioned him about his activity the night before that would have him so agitated and upset.
This experience left him shook.
“How can somebody just walk by me, not even speaking, and try to discern that I was agitated?” Andrade said of the caller in an interview with the Gazette.
“This is when it becomes dangerous, when people know how to push the buttons of law enforcement … Those were those strong key buzzwords: agitated black man dragging a heavy bag.”
University Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy sent the following email:
“For our community, this is a difficult matter,” Subbaswamy wrote. “We are living at the intersection of two very trying issues. We must all do our part to respond quickly to perceived threats of potential violence on campus, and we must build an inclusive community that respects everyone and rejects profiling.”
University Police Chief Tyrone Parhamsaid late Sunday:
“One of the things we zoned in on with that message, because we listened to it a couple times, was really the behavior,” Parham told the Collegian. “So it’s not necessarily the description of the person, it was really the behaviors that were exhibited, as to the reasons that we thought we needed to confirm this.”
University spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said Sunday that Whitmore was closed off to people entering the building for about 45 minutes.
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Even more, Andrade said this is not the first time he has been racially profiled on campus. Someone called the police on him one summer when he was a student because he sat in an empty classroom listening to an audio book. Another time, when he was an employee, someone again called the police on him after he finished working at a new student orientation.
“I always have to have my ID card on me, always, no matter where I go,” he said.
Andrade said the occurrences are “extremely nerve wracking.”
“Where is this going, am I going to get charged with a crime? Are they going to arrest me in front of my co-workers? Handcuff me?”
“Each time it gets deeper and deeper and more intense,” he said. “And psychologically, emotionally and physically, it’s just draining.”