Police called on black UMass employee walking to work
AMHERST, Mass. (AP) — A longtime employee of the University of Massachusetts Amherst who says he was questioned by plainclothes officers after someone called police to report an “agitated” black male on campus said he was clearly a victim of racial profiling.
Reginald Andrade was following his normal daily routine Friday, walking from his morning workout to his job in the disability office in the university’s Whitmore Administration Building, he told The Daily Hampshire Gazette.
An unidentified person called the university’s anonymous tip line to report an agitated black man carrying a low-hanging duffel bag, according to a transcript of the call.
Two officers questioned Andrade without telling him why, said Andrade, who has worked at the university for 14 years. The building was locked down for about 30 minutes.
“How can somebody just walk by me, not even speaking, and try to discern that I was agitated?” Andrade said. “This is when it becomes dangerous, when people know how to push the buttons of law enforcement.”
He called the entire episode “extremely nerve-wracking.”
Campus Police Chief Tyrone Parham told The Massachusetts Daily Collegian student newspaper, which first reported the conflict, that investigators focused on the reported behavior and not the race.
He said the officers were professional and low key.
UMass Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy said he hoped the call was motivated by a desire to protect public safety.
“We are living at the intersection of two very trying issues,” Subbaswamy wrote in an email to campus. “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.”
The encounter at UMass came just weeks after a black student at nearby Smith College was approached by a campus officer after police received a report that the student seemed “out of place” while eating lunch.
Information from: Daily Hampshire Gazette (Northampton, Mass.), http://www.gazettenet.com