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Harvard Slow to Act on Police Brutality of Black Student

A university committee missed its deadline to address the abusive arrest of a student caught on video.

Screenshot / YOUTUBE

Harvard University has failed to complete an examination of school policies after members of the Cambridge Police Department beat a Black student.


In April, Cambridge police were recorded brutally attacking 21-year-old Selorm Ohene. The former university President Drew G. Faust formed a committee to investigate the arrest of Ohene, with urgency.

The committee was supposed to complete and deliver recommendations on school policies by the start of the fall semester last week, but that has not happened, according to The Harvard Crimson.

Five months after the incident, it has yet to be properly addressed.

The Harvard Black Law Students Association wrote a memo explaining what happened to Ohene on April 13:

"A naked, unarmed Black man stood still on the median at the center of Massachusetts Avenue across from Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church. He was surrounded by at least four CPD officers who, without provocation, lunged at him, tackled him and pinned him to the ground.

"While on the ground, at least one officer repeatedly punched the student in his torso as he screamed for help. The officers held him to the ground until paramedics arrived, placed him on a stretcher, and put him in the ambulance.

"A pool of blood remained on the pavement as the ambulance departed. Shortly thereafter, firefighters came and cleaned up the blood with bleach and water.

"This victim of police violence happened to be a Harvard student.

"The University has ample resources that could have, and should have, been mobilized to come to the student's aid prior to CPD getting involved."

The seven-minute video shows officers holding down Ohene as they strike him repeatedly.

The Cambridge Police Department claimed Ohene was likely under the influence of narcotics, and had clenched his fists and began making aggressive movements towards them, so they tackled him.

The department has not determined when its internal probe into the conduct of officers involved will be completed.

However, Roderick L. Ireland, the first African American Chief Justice of the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court, is conducting an "independent review" of the police department's internal review.

"As a student, I am concerned with the inability of Harvard's committee and administration, both past and present, to keep its word and ensure that students on this campus feel safe and heard," student Hilda M. Jordan said, in a statement to The Harvard Crimson.

The Harvard committee said, on Thursday, it needs to conduct more focus groups on the incident before making suggestions to current president Lawrence S. Bacow.

Law School professor Annette Gordon-Reed, the committee chair, wrote in a letter to Bacow that the group isn't yet ready to conclude its work, and is aiming to do so by later this fall.

The Conversation (1)
votetocount13 Sep, 2018

Huge law suit!

As racial disparities continue to plague the criminal justice system, a former police chief in Florida admitted to purposely sending Black men to prison.

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Serena Williams Breaks Her Silence on US Open Controversy

Meanwhile, Williams' husband slams a New York Times study, which tries to discredit her claim about the treatment of women in professional tennis.

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In an interview with an Australian talk show, The Project, scheduled to air next Sunday, Williams refutes the remark her coach Patrick Mouratoglou made about gesturing to her from the stands. She denies cheating.

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Screenshot / MSNBC

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Voting Rights Protections for Minorities in Danger: Report

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REUTERS

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights warns that voting rights for minorities around the country are in danger. The federal government isn't doing anything to counteract it, especially since Republicans have most to lose in key midterm elections.

A report, released on Wednesday, cited strict voter ID laws; closing polling places; cutting early voting; and voting roll purges and challenges to eligibility are all impacting minority-voting rights.

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REUTERS

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Spread the Word on Injustice: You Made #WhileBlack Viral

There are infinite stories out there, and it's time to hear from you, because we know #WhileBlack is happening to you.

Hundreds, even thousands of #WhileBlack stories have swept the nation. You made yet another truth viral with over 90,000 views: Black Restaurant Owner Arrested for Helping Unconscious White Woman Sues NYPD.

Recently, Clyde Pemberton, a businessman in #HarlemWhileBlack, decided, along with his employees to make #WhileBlack legal, literally, and hold the NYPD accountable for arresting them for helping a white woman.

The Harlem MIST owner's lawsuit blatantly states that he was a "conscientious business owner while Black", and his employees were arrested for "being helpful employees while Black."

They want justice for living their lives, trying to help people, and being punished and forever changed because of it. Investors are gone, business is suffering, and he and employees want nothing to do with the police now.

While many stories have been about police and emergency response personnel being annoyed about having to respond to calls about Blacks living their lives, like The Science Behind Why White People Call Police on Black People for Doing Ordinary Things, many also involve the men and women in blue, who act unprofessionally and downright racist in their #WhileBlack perpetuation.

We've covered it in corporate settings, everyday settings, police interactions; we've talked to experts about the phenomenon. #WhileBlack and the fear of a racial group losing its majority status have impacted the country's behavior:

"For people of color, our concern is that we're on guard for discrimination coming toward us. And for whites, the concern is 'Whatever I'm about to say it may be landing in a way where the person perceives me as racist.' So they double down because they don't want to admit a particular bias or slant," said Alexis McGill-Johnson, executive director and co-founder of Perception Institute.

There are infinite stories out there, and it's time to hear from you, because we know #WhileBlack is happening to you.

Join The Conversation below, or send us an email, tweet, Instagram, Facebook or LinkedIn reply and tell us: What is YOUR #WhileBlack story?


Update: Officer's Story of S​hooting Botham Jean Contradicts Witnesses

Witnesses say they heard the officer say, "Let me in. Let me in."

TWITTER

Botham "Bo" Jean was killed around 10 p.m. on Thursday night by Amber Guyger, a four-year veteran of the Dallas police department, who just ended her shift and returned to her apartment complex.

The 911 call said she cried after shooting Jean in the chest, and apologized saying she thought it was her apartment. Her arrest warrant says that Guyger reports drawing her gun when she saw a figure in the dark apartment, giving verbal commands—which were ignored—and then firing two shots.

But witnesses, according to the family lawyers, say that they heard sounds and talking that contradict that report.

"They heard knocking down the hallway followed by a woman's voice that they believe to be officer Guyger saying, 'Let me in. Let me in,'" attorney Lee Merritt said.

After the gunshots, a man's voice was heard.

"What we believe to be the last words of Botham Jean which was 'Oh my god, why did you do that?'" Merritt said.

There were two witnesses, Caitlyn Simpson and Yasmine Hernandez, that heard a lot of noise on the fourth floor that night, including 'police talk', like: "Open up!"

There was also a video taken by witnesses of Jean being rolled out on a stretcher, with EMS performing chest compressions on him.

Dallas County District Attorney Faith Johnson is collecting all of the evidence before presenting to a grand jury, which could decide to up the charges to murder.

"We're going to unravel what we need to unravel, unturn what we need to unturn, and present a full case to the grand jury of Dallas County," Johnson said.

Protests were held Monday night outside the police department as questions still remain:

What were the results of the blood test for Guyger, and why did police respond from 30 miles away, rather than Dallas police headquarters that was two blocks away?

The family's lawyers are also still asking why Guyger was allowed to leave the scene without handcuffs and not be arrested for three days. "You or I would be arrested if we went to the wrong apartment and blow a hole in a person's chest, killing them," said Benjamin Crump.

The officer was arrested Sunday, and released on $300,000 bail as of Monday. She is on paid administrative leave.

Botham Jean's funeral is on Thursday.

Related Story: Dallas Police Department's Attempt to Demonize Murder Victim, Botham Jean, is Disgusting

Related Story: Update: Botham Jean Celebrated Amid the Urging of Officer Guyger to Come Clean

Related story: White Police Officer Charged With Manslaughter for Shooting Black Man in His Own Apartment

"Let me in": Witnesses dispute cop account of Botham Jean shooting, attorney says