Earlier this month, a person shot and injured three people at an impromptu back-to-school gathering at Towson University’s Freedom Square.
According to The Towerlight, the shooting took place at the event dubbed “We Back!: the official Morgan and Towson back to school party” (Morgan presumably nearby Morgan State University). One of the victims was a Towson student.
The suspect was charged with attempted first-degree murder and first-degree assault, among other things. None of the victims’ injuries were life-threatening.
One TU student said the “We Back!” event had moved to Freedom Square from an adjacent shopping center because “people were supposedly flashing guns” and “it was very rowdy […] with people being impatient” (see video below). The student added “it was already a suspicious situation” due to the amount of noise, and said he was “very surprised” there wasn’t a single Towson U. cop present.
Another undergrad said he chose to attend Towson “because of how much the safety of campus was stressed.” Now, he’s not so sure.
However, another student praised the TUPD response: “I’ve always had my speculations if campus police were actually a help or not, but I can say now for sure that they did an excellent job being there and responding so fast.”
Three days later there was a different mentality. The campus police department ended up suspending an officer over “whether they performed established procedures” at the event, and Towson is having discussions regarding “topics of safety, communication, and race.”
TU junior Samantha Brager said she “recognized” that having more cops around might make students of color feel uneasy. “An ‘increased police presence’ is not a helpful answer, especially after a literal shooting,” she said, adding that “an alternative” could be more surveillance cameras.
Tia Price, the mother of a TU senior, said people have to remember that black people “have experienced police as something to be feared.”
“Police have to be able to manage their own biases and fears when dealing with Black students and the only way to do that is sitting down with them, getting to know their names and their stories and seeing them for who they are – human beings, sons, daughters, sisters, brothers, just trying to learn and live a good life” Price said.
To Price, a major part of the solution lies in prevention.
“Students and school officials should be educated on how to respond to potential signs of chaos or danger,” Price said. “Students should report events that have a potential risk of danger and conversely campus officials or police should have a reasonable presence to ensure the safety of students.”
Regarding criticisms on the Towson Instagram page about the “defund the police” movement, Price said such remarks “shouldn’t be used when tragedy like a school shooting strikes.”
IMAGE: Jacky Lam / Unsplash