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University and accuser leave out race of campus officer in alleged ‘anti-Blackness’ incident

President has repeatedly prejudged result of investigation before it even started

When a black person has an unwanted interaction with police, it’s often assumed to have racial motivations. But when a black person accuses police of “anti-Blackness,” isn’t the officer’s race relevant to judging the accusation?

Neither Santa Clara University nor Prof. Danielle Fuentes Morgan has identified the race or ethnicity of the officer who accompanied her visiting brother to her university-owned house, despite Morgan’s crusade to racialize the incident in a viral tweet thread.

She even said the encounter exemplified “the anti-Blackness [the campus police] espouse and practice.”

University President Kevin O’Brien released a statement saying the Jesuit school was already planning to train officers in “racial profiling” on a regular basis, starting “within the next few weeks.” His statement, like Morgan’s, omitted the race or ethnicity of the officer.

Director of Equal Opportunity Belinda Guthrie is investigating the incident. “Racial bias or profiling has no place on our campus,” O’Brien wrote, prejudging the motivation of the officer.

In a followup message two days later, O’Brien again prejudged the results of the investigation by implying the incident proved that “our community is not free from the racism that pervades our society.” He promises to make the university “dedicated to the struggle against racism.”

SCU is hiring an outside investigator, Keith Rohman, whose portfolio includes investigations of the Abu Ghraib Iraqi prison scandal and the trial of police officers for the beating of Rodney King in 2012. The officers, whose races and ethnicities were once again not noted, “have agreed to take an administrative leave.”

News coverage so far, including from CNN, has sourced its claims entirely from Morgan and does not appear to have asked for the campus police incident report. Both she and her brother, Carlos Fuentes, also appear to be Hispanic.

MORE: College dean blocks traffic, invokes racism when questioned by cops

Morgan said her brother “strictly quarantined” himself so he could visit her after eight months apart. Carlos was working outside on campus when campus officers told him to “move along” and pursued in him four cars as he left what he thought was campus boundaries.

One officer accompanies Carlos to her door and “very aggressively demanded to see my campus ID” to verify that she was authorized to live in the university-owned house. The officer allegedly said her brother was “in the bushes” and that officers thought he might be homeless.

Morgan immediately racialized the issue, telling the officer of unidentified race and ethnicity that she was “one of 7 Black faculty in the College of Arts and Sciences and that our student body population is 2% Black. I told them that the anti-Blackness they espouse and practice is part of the reason why.” She accused campus police of ignoring white students who are “maskless” on campus.

Her white husband, another faculty member, told the officer “this was anti-Black and despicable” and that campus officers “only harass Black students and faculty.” Morgan also stated that she told the officer this response was “exactly why we need to abolish the police and immediately divest from the city police department on campus.”

Morgan told CNN that the incident could have “ended in a hashtag, with my brother being arrested or killed,” even though she specifically notes that the officer said none of them was armed. (Campus police are not sworn officers but rather staff members.)

MORE: SCU tells students how to recognize ‘your whiteness’

The College Fix could find no reporting that suggested reporters had asked the university whether the alleged response of campus officers was the protocol for investigating potentially unauthorized persons on campus.

The Fix has asked university media relations to provide the race and ethnicities of the officers under investigation and clarify whether it believes police functions inherently involve “anti-Blackness” or racial profiling, regardless of the race or ethnicity of the responding officers. It has also asked for a copy of the incident report from campus police.

Read Morgan’s tweet thread, President O’Brien’s statements and CNN report.

MORE: SCU ignores its own lawyer, refuses to recognize conservative club

IMAGE: Yury Zap/Shutterstock

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About the Author
Associate Editor
Greg spent several years as a technology policy reporter and editor for Warren Communications News in Washington, D.C., and guest host on C-SPAN’s “The Communicators.” He co-founded the alternative newspaper PUNCH and served as a reporter, editor and columnist for The Falcon at Seattle Pacific University.

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