ACLU Statement on Smith College Findings on Racial Profiling of Black Student
NEW YORK — Smith College investigators issued findings today on the July 31 racial profiling incident involving Oumou Kanoute, a black student who was reported to campus police while eating lunch. The American Civil Liberties Union and ACLU of Massachusetts began representing Kanoute in September to help seek a restorative justice process, make institutional reforms, and continue efforts to challenge the weaponization of police for “Living While Black.”
Carl Takei, senior staff attorney the ACLU, issued the following statement in response:
“Smith’s investigators determined no policies were violated based on a key finding of its own report: The college’s policies provide abysmal guidance on how to deal with race-based suspicious person situations, for both individuals making the calls and dispatchers fielding them.
“Oumou should never have been reported to the police. Any reasonable person looking at Oumou on the couch would have seen a Black student doing nothing threatening or suspicious.
“Most importantly, the college’s investigators found none of the college’s policies provide protection for Black and brown students who are targets of racially motivated suspicious person calls. The ACLU’s model policies directly address the faults the investigators themselves found in Smith’s existing ones. We urge Smith to adopt the policy changes and institutional reforms that the ACLU provided to the college in September, to protect Oumou and other students of color so this doesn’t happen again.”
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