Students protest arrest of graduate student
SG launches website section dedicated to AUPD policies
Students gathered outside Mary Graydon Center Wednesday to protest the American University Police Department’s arrest of a graduate student for unlawful entry Tuesday night.
The graduate student, Benjamin Brumer, was arrested Tuesday night after he “refused to identify himself as an AU student by any means when asked repeatedly by AUPD,” university spokesperson Mark Story told The Eagle Tuesday. In an interview with The Eagle, Brumer contradicted that account, stating he approached AUPD officers to confirm his identity after leaving campus. He did not, however, have his student ID card.
Graduate student Mona Ahmed, Brumer’s friend, said she organized the protest because she believed Brumer was “unjustly removed from campus” and mistreated by AUPD.
“That should never happen to any students when they’re on campus,” Ahmed said. “We wanted to let students know what was going on, we wanted to make sure that students had a space to voice their grievances.”
About 20 to 30 students gathered for the protest. Some demonstrators held signs that read “End Police Brutality,” “End Violence On Campus” and “AU Is Not A Police State.” The crowd originally met in the School of International Service atrium but later marched outside to the front steps of the Mary Graydon Center.
During the protest, Brumer told the crowd he “is just a student, and yet it seems that the police thought otherwise.”
“Nothing here warranted any kind of dehumanization on my part, and yet police found reason and a way to hurt me, hurt our campus and hurt our community,” Brumer said.
Elli Grapt, a graduate student in the International Conflict and Peace Resolution program in SIS — the same program Brumer is enrolled in — came to the protest to support him. She told the group of protesters that she felt that the campus police had an intimidating presence on campus.
“I don’t think heightening security by increased police presence is necessarily the
best route,” Grapt said. “I would expect them to at least speak out in defense of our students and hear out the students on what they think the solutions could be rather than blaming someone else.”
The Graduate Leadership Council and SIS Graduate Council are planning a meeting on March 20 at 6 p.m. to discuss all safety measures at AU, a representative of the GLC said.
Ahmed spoke about future action students could take after the the arrest.
“A lot of people of color, including myself, do not feel safe when authority figures like that don’t have any mind being able to use their force in excess constantly are around,” Ahmed said. “I think that after this, I personally would feel like we would need to see a list of either demands or whatever else they want to call it and to present that to administration.”
Scott Patrick, a doctoral student, said he thinks the University needs to handle tension among students better by increasing awareness of white supremacy and having students reflect on their experiences and privileges.
“I think the administration, even though it’s hard, is going to have to require students to interrogate their own racism,” Patrick said. “You can’t just put up cops everywhere. You actually have to address the problem at its source.”
In response to ongoing concerns about the arrest, Student Government President Yamillet Payano and Center for Advocacy and Student Equity Director Will Mascaro said in a memo to students they “are disappointed that the situation escalated to the point that it did.”
SG’s online resource center, CASEcnct, has launched a new section with information relevant to AUPD procedures and will be updated with more information, they said.
Payano and Mascaro also said they have requested that AU make public the procedures AUPD uses when requesting a student’s identification and when an arrest is made.
In response to criticism of the initial SG statement on the arrest, Payano and Mascaro said they will also “work to set internal AUSG standards for how we listen to and advocate for students’ concerns and ideas.”
“As your student representatives, we work with you,” Payano and Mascaro said in their statement. “You are right to hold us accountable, and to expect that we pursue the issues that matter to you--in this case, making sure that students are able to feel safe on campus.”
Lydia Calitri contributed to this article.