Students at Barnard College and Columbia University pare demanding answers after shocking video showed a black student get forcibly detained by six public safety officers for failing to show his school ID.
Upsetting video shows the officers slamming Alexander McNab, an anthropology Senior, against a counter top after he declined to show them his Columbia student identification on Thursday night.
The incident took place at the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College. McNab was entering the building after 11pm.
‘I didn’t violate anybody; get your hands off of me,’ McNab can be heard shouting repeatedly as the officers manhandle him.
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Upsetting video shows the officers slamming Alexander McNab, an anthropology Senior, against a counter top t the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning at Barnard College
As the guards tell the student to show his ID and continue pushing him into the counter, McNab shouts that he has not touched any of them.
One of the public safety officers notices that the altercation is being filmed and instructs the group to ‘walk outside’ so they can handle the matter.
McNab then shows the officers his Columbia student identification and informs them that ‘this is the third time that Barnard public safety has chased me down.’
The officer keeps telling McNab to walk outside but the student asserts his right to be on the premises as a Columbia student.
But the safety officer confiscates the student’s ID and McNab furiously follows demanding that his identification is returned to him.
McNab then shows the officers his Columbia student identification and informs them that ‘this is the third time that Barnard public safety has chased me down’
McNab continues asserting his right as a student but the officer decides that he needs to check if he is ‘active’ and keeps trying to get him to come outside.
The student apologizes to his peers for the disturbance, but they tell him ‘don’t be sorry.’
Another clip shows the continuation of the arguing between McNab and the main officer who held unto his identification.
The student apologizes to his peers for the disturbance, but they tell him ‘don’t be sorry’
The officer repeatedly states that he needs to ‘verify’ that McNab is actually a student and claims that he was stopped for running into the building and not showing his ID.
But both McNab and other students state that he was walking into the building, refuting the officers claim.
Another officer claims that McNab was ‘crossing awfully fast’ across the street when they noticed him.
McNab declares that he was trying to catch a light as another student – a black woman – ponders why officers have a problem with him crossing the street.
The officer then sarcastically asks the other student if she has a gauge to see how fast McNab was walking.
As the woman calmly asks the officer why it matters how fast McNab was crossing the street, the officer tells her to ‘relax’ and insinuates that the woman is being aggressive.
But the woman informs the man that she is relaxed and asks the officer to stop talking to her.
The clip ends with the camera woman – another student – telling the same officer that the woman was relaxed as he walks away.
McNab continues asserting his right as a student but the officer decides that he needs to check if he is ‘active’ and keeps trying to get him to come outside
A ‘loose policy’ states that students are required to show their IDs to Public Safety after 11pm in order to enter campus.
McNab told the
He stresses that he refused to go outside because he wanted to make sure people could keep filming the scene.
The student also alleged that on two occasions Barnard public safety officers harassed him and accused him of not attending Columbia. Both instances involved McNab being in the space for dance practice.
When witnesses try to step in, the officers sarcastically dismiss them and tell them to calm down
A ‘loose policy’ states that students are required to show their IDs to Public Safety after 11pm in order to enter campus. McNab told the Columbia Spectator that he was aware of the rule but noticed that white students were hardly ever asked to show their identification
On the first occasion, McNab said that he was asked to show his identification as he was leaving the premises. On the other, officers assumed that he was a homeless man as he was getting a drink of water while barefoot during rehearsal.
‘Because of all of that, I said ‘Nah, that’s not happening again this time,’ McNab explained as to why he refused to show his ID.
Of the encounter, he added: ‘What I didn’t see coming was when they got the other Public Safety officer to come to the side and pin me to the counter. I hadn’t made any threats; all I said was I’m not going to show you my ID. I don’t understand where that came from.’
Students organized a protest at Barnard Gates soon after the statements were released and wound up at Barnard Hall, where they chanted ‘Public Safety is not safe!’ and ‘Public Safety is anti-black.’ McNab was said to be in attendance for the protest
‘It’s like I was resisting arrest or something. It was very much like an NYPD police officer-type interaction.’
Both Barnard and Columbia held listening sessions on Friday for students to share their concerns about what had happened.
Barnard President Sian Beilock expressed ‘deep regret’ for the ‘unfortunate incident,’ adding that it ‘raised concerns about our safety and security policies and how they are enforced.’
The deans of the School of Engineering and Applied Science, General Studies, and Columbia College followed up and released a second joint statement condemning anti-black racism.
‘We recognize there is a continued legacy of anti-black racism that has existed in our country since its founding. The more recent climate of racism and inflammatory rhetoric in both the country and the world at large continues to demonstrate a rising trend that targets marginalized populations. We are disturbed that such incidents continue to occur so close to home, and share in the hurt and pain many of you may be feeling.’
Barnard also announced that the six officers were placed on paid administrative leave as they hired private investigators to look into the incident.
‘We are taking this very seriously and look forward to further engaging the community on this topic,’ the school’s statement reads. ‘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.’
Students organized a protest at Barnard Gates soon after the statements were released and wound up at Barnard Hall, where they chanted ‘Public Safety is not safe!’ and ‘Public Safety is anti-black.’ McNab was said to be in attendance for the protest.