Campus Cops Suspended after Pinning down Black Columbia Student

Several public safety officers working at Columbia University have been suspended following an incident involving a black student whom they asked to show ID. 

Alexander Cecil McNab, 23, was entering Barnard College's Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning on the evening of Thursday, April 11. According to the Washington Post, he had just come from an Afro beats dance practice and was ready to chow down.

By the end of the night, however, McNab would be the subject of a viral video that featured him as the victim of what some perceive as a racial attack and others view as unnecessarily defiant.

When security officers from the school asked McNab for his ID and he did not immediately produce it, things went south. A video recorded by another student of the university showed what happened and was shared on Twitter by verified user Andy Ngo, a journalist. 

At one point, an officer instructed McNab to follow him outside, to which McNab replied:

“Let me show you my ID. You want to see my ID? I am a Columbia University student. You see this? That’s me. This is the third time Barnard Public Safety has chased me down and you put your hands on me. I didn’t touch any of you. You ought to be ashamed of yourselves!”

Not wanting to leave, McNab insisted that he has a right to be in the building. An officer then questioned whether or not McNab was an active student. Things turned physical and six officers were involved in the altercation.

Following the events, Barnard President Sian Leah Beilock condemned the actions of the officers and they have all six been suspended. According to a statement from Beilock, they are now under investigation by an independent firm for pinning down McNab on the counter in a food place named Peet's Coffee. 

Beilock claimed

“I am as deeply troubled by what we witnessed in those videos as you are. I sincerely apologize to the Columbia student involved and have reached out to him to better understand his experience on campus. I also apologize to the students who witnessed it and were treated disrespectfully, and to all who have felt its impact.”

According to Columbia Spectator, the college and the university held listening sessions during which students shared their views and concerns about the occurrence. 

The statement further acknowledged the need to discuss race and racial bias. “I want to be clear that racism has no place on our campus," it read. A second statement referenced support for the inclusion of all different students but did not specifically address racist actions. 

It read: 

"Barnard values inclusivity and is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and welcoming place for each and every member of our community, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or national origin.”

Prior to the release of the second statement, Barnard College students organized a protest bringing awareness to anti-blackness. On Facebook, the description said that they would make it clear that “every white student needs to understand how they are complicit, and often active, in allowing assaults like this to happen."

Back in February 2019, a Missouri substitute school teacher got into hot water for racist comments she made towards black middle school students. According to one of the students' mother, the male teacher allegedly said: 

"I was told to shoot you black boys. You black boys are nothing but trouble. I've been told to shoot you.”

The mother said it wasn't her son who reported the man, but the incident was passed along and a school administrator ended up escorting the substitute teacher out. 

Stephen Hall, the chief communications officer for Springfield Public Schools, denounced the teacher's actions in a statement. Penman Education Staffing, who hired the man, said they would be investigating the teacher.  

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