Yale on the Detainment of Charles Blow’s Son: This Isn’t Ferguson

In an email sent to the campus community, Yale’s leaders expressed empathy for how closely the incident harks back to the #BlackLivesMatters movement—but maintained that it’s not exactly that.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow
New York Times columnist Charles Blow Twitter

Yale’s president, dean and chief of police, in an email to the campus community Monday, described how even though Charles Blow’s son—a junior at Yale—fit the description of a burglary suspect at the time he was detained, the fact that the officer drew his weapon during the incident “requires a careful review.” 

“For this reason, the Yale Police Department’s Internal Affairs unit is conducting a thorough and expeditious investigation of the circumstances surrounding the incident, and will report the findings of that investigation to us,” Yale’s leaders stated in the email.

The email revealed more information about the incident that had Blow, a New York Times columnist, sounding off on Twitter about how this was the latest example of black people being unfairly “accosted” by police. According to the email, the officer who detained Blow’s son was also African American.

The email noted that Americans are in the middle of a national conversation about excessive police force used against African Americans and the ugly ways in which racial bias rears itself in law enforcement.  

“Many in our community felt personal pain upon reading accounts of this incident on social media and in the press as they saw national debates about race, policing and the use of force become a very local and personal story,” Yale leaders explained in the email. “We share these feelings and recognize that the interest in and reaction to this incident underscore that the work of making our campus and our society more inclusive, just and safe remains an imperative for all of us.”

Yale’s president, dean and police chief said that they did not think this incident was a regurgitation of what happened to Michael Brown in Ferguson, Mo., or Eric Garner in New York City. They said that because Blow’s son fit the description of the burglary suspect, down to what he was wearing, Blow’s son’s detainment—save for the drawing of the cop’s weapon—was “reasonable.”

The email stated that when Internal Affairs’ investigation concludes, the findings will be released to the campus community.

Yale’s leaders underscored the need to continue to have discussions about how race and law enforcement intersect, and that Yale is committed to engaging those issues.