Two police officers at a historically black college in North Carolina have been placed on administrative leave after they were caught on camera forcefully arresting a student leader who committed the dangerous crime of being exactly where he was supposed to be.
Around 1:30 a.m. on Wednesday, North Carolina Agricultural and Technical University (N.C. A&T) sophomore Verdant Julius, who serves as president of the class of 2022, was returning to his dormitory on the Greensboro, N.C., campus with two of his friends when the group was stopped by two police officers, the Winston-Salem Journal reports. Because of the coronavirus crisis, the university had already shut down classes but had given students until Sunday to clear out of the dorm rooms.
The officers asked Julius and the other male student for their student IDs, which the students provided. Unsatisfied, the campus cops told the students to swipe their cards at the McCain Residence Hall to prove they were currently enrolled. The officers then told Julius’ female friend that she had to leave because she didn’t reside in the dorm, according to a petition from N.C. A&T students.
“Hearing that his friend, who was there to assist him, was being asked to leave, Verdant Julius asked the campus security guard and police officer for an explanation,” the petition reads. “The officer responded to this request by saying, ‘If you take one step closer I am going to have you arrested for obstruction of an investigation’. This was the first time the officer informed Verdant Julius and the other two students that an investigation was in progress.”
One student at the dorm began recording a video, showing Julius handing his keys to someone as the two officers attempted to arrest the student for...I don’t know, asking questions, maybe? One officer/soothsayer, apparently having seen a prophecy of Julius resisting arrest, repeatedly warns Julius: “Resist and I’m gon’ Mase you.” (Some people assumed the cop was referring to the Mace brand of pepper spray but, to be fair, the cop could’ve meant that he was planning to make Julius sign a bad contract with Bad Boy Records and take all the proceeds from his hits, forcing Julius to become a rapping minister. Perhaps the cops simply wanted to know why Julius was over there looking at them while his girl was standing there.)
In either case, the officers placed a hand on Julius’ neck before throwing him against a wall, then the ground and eventually placing him in handcuffs, proving that Julius was wrong if he thought “Can’t Nobody Hold Me Down.” The two officers jumped on top of the student with a forearm on his neck to make sure he couldn’t “Breathe, Stretch, Shake” or stay in his dorm.
N.C. A&T Police Chief Charles Wilson said Julius was released after being charged with resist, delay or obstruct of a public officer along with trespassing.
How is that possible?
OK, any objective observer would say that Julius was indeed guilty of resisting, delaying and obstructing the officers’ apparent attempt to end his breathing curriculum. But how does one trespass in the place where they live? I’m home right now. If those police officers told me to stop writing this, could they charge me with trespassing? I’m definitely trying to obstruct the continued brutality of black bodies. Is this a crime?
N.C. A&T students feel the same way, writing:
The over-policing of Black students is an ongoing problem at many colleges and universities in the United States. It is outrageous and disappointing to witness this unnecessary use of force used on a student who was simply trying to go to his dorm room with friends and fellow students. Verdant Julius and the students of NCA&T deserve the rights and freedoms that should be afforded to all university students. They deserve to feel safe and protected on their campus.
“University administrators are evaluating the matter in an effort to reach an appropriate resolution,” school officials said in a statement. “Further, we have met with the individual student, as well as Student Government Association leadership, to understand their concerns.
“Be assured that the issue of campus safety is one of our top priorities and maintaining that safe environment requires the cooperation and understanding of every member of our community.”
The two officers were not named but when asked “who’s hot, who’s not, who rock, who sell out in the stores, who flopped, who copped the blue drop or whose jewels got rocks,” The N.C. A&T Police Department did not say:
“We have no idea. But we’ll arrest him and beat his ass if you want.”