Yale University has responded to an incident in which a campus police officer held a black male student at gunpoint after thinking the student matched the description of a burglary suspect.
The student is the son of New York Times columnist Charles Blow. After tweeting that he was "fuming" over the incident, Blow wrote an article about his son's encounter with the officer, explaining the student was leaving the library Saturday evening when the officer began following him. The officer ultimately raised his gun and told him to get on the ground, he wrote. He said his son was then asked his name and to produce his student ID.
He mentions that he took particular issue with how his son was stopped: "Why was a gun drawn first?"
"I am reminded of what I have always known, but what some would choose to deny: that there is no way to work your way out — earn your way out — of this sort of crisis. In these moments, what you’ve done matters less than how you look," Blow wrote. "There is no amount of respectability that can bend a gun’s barrel. All of our boys are bound together."
Blow also tweeted "#ICantBreathe" and "#BlackLivesMatter," hashtags associated with the protests overs the deaths of Michael Brown and Eric Garner, who were killed by police officers last year.
On Monday, Yale University sent an email backing the Yale Police Department, but saying an investigation will be conducted into the fact that the officer drew his gun. The school also noted the "actual suspect was found and arrested a short distance away."
Let us be clear: we have great faith in the Yale Police Department and admire the professionalism that its officers display on a daily basis to keep our campus safe. What happened on Cross Campus on Saturday is not a replay of what happened in Ferguson; Staten Island; Cleveland; or so many other places in our time and over time in the United States. The officer, who himself is African American, was responding to a specific description relayed by individuals who had reported a crime in progress. Even though the officer's decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review.
According to the Yale Daily News, there have been a string of thefts on campus. Students have reported laptops, a wallet, an iPad and a checkbook missing. An intruder had also been reported to police.
On Monday, Blow told CNN his son is feeling better and is back in class. He also expressed empathy for others who have been in similar situations.
"He realizes that there are other young people who have fewer privileges, less access and endure even greater traumas, but whose stories go unreported until something truly tragic happens," he said. "He wants the focus to remain on them. I couldn't be prouder of him for having the wisdom to recognize that."
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