Graduate student speaks to The Eagle after he was arrested by AU Police Tuesday night
Benjamin Brumer recalls the night he was arrested
Graduate student Benjamin Brumer returned to campus Wednesday morning after being arrested by American University Police for unlawful entry Tuesday night. AU Police said Brumer refused to identify himself as a student after being asked several times, but Brumer is contradicting that account.
Brumer said he was working on a midterm in the East Quad Building around 6:30 p.m. when an officer approached him and asked him for his identification. When he could not provide the officer with his AU ID -- he left his ID card in his apartment, he said -- the police officer told Brumer he was trespassing and was subject to fines and jail time. Three more officers came to the scene, Brumer said, and told Brumer to leave.
Brumer said he left the premises between 6:45 and 7 p.m. While conversing with the officers, Brumer said he tried to ask why the officers asked to talk to him, but they did not give him a response.
“They either shrugged me off, or maybe thought that I was just another random student,” Brumer said.
After leaving campus, Brumer decided to reach out to people that he knew would be able to verify to AU Police that he was a student. Brumer said he does not live close to campus, so he thought that going home to get his ID would have been a waste of time.
“I live a fairly decent ways away,” Brumer said. “I would have taken me 30 minutes [walking] in the rain, and I had no place to go. I really wanted to be time efficient because I had a midterm that was due that evening.”
Brumer and his group of colleagues returned to campus and approached an officer on the quad to confirm his status as a student. According to Brumer, the officer was receptive to what they were saying until another officer approached the group and demanded that he leave.
“He was completely not receptive to anything we said and seemed very threatening,” Brumer said.
University spokesperson Mark Story said in a Tuesday statement to The Eagle that “Mr. Brumer refused to identify himself as an AU student by any means when asked repeatedly by AUPD.”
Brumer said he complied with the officers and told them that he would leave. He and his colleagues started walking towards Hurst Hall when the officers caught up to him, Brumer said.
“I turn around to see my colleagues trailing us, and I stand there for about two seconds to wait for them, at which point an officer comes behind me and tosses me to the ground,” Brumer said.
After being handcuffed, Brumer was taken to the corner of New Mexico Avenue and Nebraska Avenue near the School of International Service building. That’s when an Eagle reporter spotted him and started recording the video above.
Brumer was later put into a Metropolitan Police Department van and taken to jail. He recalled a crowd of his professors, coworkers, and classmates gathering on the scene and confirming his identity. The Eagle captured this on video. Brumer was glad to see so many familiar faces supporting him.
“It’s encouraging to hear your colleagues and your community really want to protect you,” Brumer said. “I wouldn’t be where I am right now if it weren't for my friends and my professors. I can’t say enough how much I appreciate that they fight for me.”
Brumer was released by MPD late Tuesday night and returned to campus on Wednesday. He has not been asked for identification since returning to campus, he said. Since the incident, Brumer feels that he has lost all trust in AU authority.
“Trust is important to communal cohesion and mine is fractured right now,” Brumer said. “I’m not sure when I’ll be able to fully immerse myself back in this community. I don’t know where I stand. It hurts.”
Although Brumer was aware that AU Police are allowed to stop suspicious individuals and ask for their identification, he did not see any reason why the officers thought he was a threat to security.
“I posed no threat, I followed officer’s orders, and yet I was still brutalized and shoved around as a punching bag,” Brumer said. “I wouldn't want to hurt the community I belong to. I don’t know why, and I don’t know if it can be justified, but it happened and I was wronged as such.”
Brumer is a graduate student in the International Peace and Conflict Resolution program in SIS and will graduate from AU this May. He hopes that AUPD changes its methods of reinforcement and makes way for positive changes so another incident like this doesn’t happen again.
“It's incredibly important to me to make sure this campus is safe for all people, especially for people of color and minorities to experience our campus to to the best that this community can provide,” Brumer said.