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Students, police discuss brutality

Jennifer Corbett

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A two-year-old incident between a black student and a police officer over a stolen cafeteria cup became the main discussion during a first ever forum against police brutality against the black community held Oct. 20.

During the panel, students cited issues of police brutality incidents that occurred at Northern Kentucky University, with some involving race.

“The young man physically came in with the altercation instead of verbally,” said senior political science major Eric Smith, representative of Black Men’s Organization. “In this instance, the young man was in the wrong since he physically intervened.”

According to reports, the incident happened in Fall 2003 when a female student left the Norse Commons on-campus cafeteria and took a cup with her. The University Police officer asked her to stop and return the cup. However, the female did not listen and a black man intervened as he walked out of the cafeteria. The officer began a foot pursuit with the young man, which ended with the student having a broken wrist.

“I think there is nothing special about police work. Sometimes there is just bad hiring that takes place,” said UP Chief Harold Todd. “Some officers have a temper problem. It’s a small percentage of police officers, but it gets the most publicity.”

According to Todd, the issue of being sensitive to the black community needs to be brought up during police training. So they can see what the black community has to deal with on a daily basis.

“Police brutality is real; it’s more of a personal issue though,” said student Brandon Hill, representative from STAR “When countless issues happened on police brutality, those people ended up getting promotions. In a sense the police are an extension of the military. What happens in Iraq is basically going on here.”

“The young man physically came in with the altercation instead of verbally,” said senior political science major Eric Smith, representative of Black Men’s Organization. “In this instance, the young man was in the wrong since he physically intervened.”

Another cited incident was when a black male climbed through the window to his dorm room, later telling police he had locked himself out. According to reports, an officer witnessed him take out a TV through the front door while he was moving to a different dorm, and the officer thought he was stealing it. The officer then followed the male back to his room and forced himself into the male’s dorm room, without a warrant, and choked him. The student reported no injuries.

“It’s not right because DPS is not even allowed in students’ dorms without the hall director,” Smith said. “The officer was even disciplined, he was just told to not do it again.”

To stop things like this from happening again, Todd and BMO are working to create a committee between university police and the organization. Todd said they would also be working with campus housing to address the issue of police brutality on NKU and see what can be done to change it.

“I understand that this committee is meant to be a first step to try to learn more about the African American community here at NKU,” Todd said. “We need to get to know each other, and then to expand other aspects.”

“People need to use their integrity and stand up to police brutality,” Hill said. “We need to use the highest ethical integrity.”

Students Together Against Racism (STAR), First Nations, Kappa Alpha Psi Fraternity Inc., the Black Men’s Organization (BMO), the Afro-American Studies program and the Lost Cause Review sponsored the event.

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Students, police discuss brutality