Massachusetts Daily Collegian

ACLU to represent UMass employee after racial profiling incident on campus

The first step of representation was filing a public records request to obtain the call

Collegian File Photo

Collegian File Photo

By Abigail Charpentier, News Editor

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The American Civil Liberties Union of Massachusetts will represent Reginald Andrade, the University of Massachusetts employee who was identified as the “agitated Black male” in a racial profiling incident from Sept. 14, 2018.

The UMass Police Department received a call at 7:45 a.m. on their anonymous tip line about a Black male walking up the ramp of the Whitmore Administration Building. After looking into the call, UMPD identified Andrade, the consumer manager in the Disability Services office, who has worked at the University for 14 years.

The news broke in a tweet from the ACLU, stating they would represent Andrade, “who was simply walking to work when a bystander called the police on him.”

“No Black or brown students or employees should have to live in fear of being reported to the police for no reason. #LivingWhileBlack,” the tweet said.

The ACLU’s first step for representing Andrade was filing a public records request, which asked for the recording and transcription of the call made on the morning of the incident. In an attempt to identify the caller, the request asks for UMPD protocols for answering 911 calls and the anonymous tip line.

“I hope UMass Amherst will do the right thing — including cooperating with the public records request that the ACLU helped me file this week,” Andrade said in an ACLU blog post. “It’s important for us to know what the anonymous caller said as well as the campus police department’s protocols for responding to 911 calls and anonymous tips that may be based on racial bias.”

In the blog post, Andrade goes on to share he was reported to the police in a similar way twice before: once as an undergraduate student listening to an audiobook in an empty classroom and again four years ago, after dropping supplies off in his office on a Saturday.

“The surveillance and policing of my behavior have taken a toll on my mental health. I feel paranoid and unsafe on a campus that claims to be inclusive. It feels like any move I make, no matter how ordinary, can trigger a stressful encounter with the cops,” Andrade said in the post.

Edward Blaguszewski of UMass News and Media Relations said, “As the university noted shortly after the disturbing incident, we know that Mr. Andrade was greatly distressed to have been treated with such suspicion through a call made to an anonymous tip line, and we have provided him resources and support. He is a valued member of our community. We have received a related public records request from the ACLU, and we are in the process of responding.”

The ACLU also announced its newly launched Living While Black on Campus campaign.

“The campaign is geared towards campuses that operate their own police and security forces, providing model policies for administrators and toolkits and resources for students who wish to lobby for change,” the press release reads.

“We have seen it again and again: Someone calls the police because a Black or brown person looks ‘out of place,’” said Rahsaan Hall, director of the Racial Justice Program at the ACLU of Massachusetts. “Police departments have choices about how to react to biased calls. Too often, they act as instruments for the biased callers. As a first step in helping colleges and universities adopt better policies and training to address these calls when they come in, we hope to learn more information about this particular anonymous call and the subsequent University of Massachusetts Police involvement.”

Abigail Charpentier can be reached at [email protected] and followed on Twitter @abigailcharp.

1 Comment

One Response to “ACLU to represent UMass employee after racial profiling incident on campus”

  1. Amy on October 11th, 2018 1:10 am

    I too have been a victim of racism by umass administration and umass employees but for being a successful asian, we need a #metoo movement here at umass.

    The sad thing is although Reginald was an obvious victim of discrimination and racism; there is little he can do even with the ACLU. Umass despite being largely non-publicly funded and funded by our tuition dollars , claims all the time when it is sued’ sovereign immunity; something that goes all the way back to colonial America and the monarchy in England; where the king claimed himself ‘sovereign’ and immune from any lawsuit.

    Now there may be a loophole that the state allows lawsuits(with the permission of the state agency your suing) and you can sue up to 100k; but most likely even with the ACLU, Umass will get away with it’s racism.

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