Studying While Black: Former Student Shaken by Police Encounter on UCD Campus

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Three weeks after a surprise encounter with two officers from the UC Davis Police department, Fayia Sellu, a former UC Davis student, was still shocked by the incident. But he was also thankful that he did not react to the police in a manner that might have caused them to use force against him.

He told the Vanguard that he was surprised that this incident occurred on the campus. Mr. Sellu, a black man, has often noticed police vehicles in the city of Davis that do u-turns and stop to observe him as he walks or rides his bicycle, but he had never had a problem on the campus.

As a former student, he has often utilized the 24-hour reading room on the side of Shields Library to do late night reading and studying. He told the Vanguard he had seen the two officers enter the reading area, but thought nothing about it as he was soon absorbed in his reading – when he discovered the two officers were standing directly over him.

He now knows them by name – Officers Guerrero and Sheffield. When they approached they asked for identification. Rather than make a scene inside the reading room, he said, he was asked to go outside and sort out his identification. Believing there was some mistake, he complied.

However, the demeanor of the officers soon changed. “On approach of the lobby, Officer Sheffield dashed for my right armed and twisted it in a motion as to get me face down. Two other officers waiting in the wings of the lobby joined in and handcuffed me with no apparent tussle,” he said.

It became apparent by the swiftness of the officers’ actions that someone had phoned the police, concerned about his presence in the reading room.

He said, “I was told among other things that my student ID had expired, hence, terminating my access to the study lounge. I accepted that.”

But how would someone know that just by looking? However, his bigger complaint was his treatment and how the officers handled the situation.

Mr. Sellu told the Vanguard, “What baffled me however, and SHOOK me violently both physically and psychologically, is the over-zealousness with which the detention was carried out. I stepped out of the building I used to occupy as a student fairly recently, in handcuffs, to face four police escort SUVs parked at the curb outside.”

He noted, “That I was a student here during the notorious ‘Pepper Spray’ incident that still leaves residues of trauma in those of us who witnessed it, the actions of both officers toward me only stand to prove how much we have learned or how far we have come, or not, since that more-than unfortunate incident.”

Fayia Sellu was clearly shaken from this ordeal, meeting with the Vanguard three weeks later. His biggest concern was wondering how he might have reacted when they came at him with surprise force.

But he also feels betrayed.

He told the Vanguard, “As a student, an alum of the UC Davis, I wish to be proud, to both associate with, and inhabit the space, and am constrained to feel that way given the uncalled-for violent treatment meted out to me early today. I always use facilities on UC Davis campus with PRIDE, even as an alum, and wish for that to continue.”

He added, “However, that cannot preclude the trauma that we have to deal with in incidents like the Pepper Spray debacle and my personal encounter today. As a community and a school, both of which I have in lived for about a decade, it is both heart-rending and instructive of what more work needs to be done in how we police young people (especially black males) in the United States, period.”

Mr. Sellu told the Vanguard he has filed a complaint and has been working with university staff. At this point there has been no conclusion of that process or comment by the university.

—David M. Greenwald reporting

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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117 thoughts on “Studying While Black: Former Student Shaken by Police Encounter on UCD Campus”

      1. Napoleon Pig IV

        The impossibility of hearing the other side of the story is one reason that justice is so elusive and expensive. Sometimes the actions and statements of government employees (such as police officers and regulators) is justified, but they are prohibited from providing evidence of that. In other cases, the hurdles to transparency simply allow corruption and abuse of power to fester unimpeded. It’s good we have a semi-free press. Oink!

    1. Topcat

      Would be nice to hear the other side of this story.

      I expect that Mr. Sellu does have some idea of why he was detained.  I can’t imagine that the officers wouldn’t have told him something about the reason for their action.

      Either Mr. Sellu isn’t telling that Vanguard everything he knows, or the Vanguard isn’t telling us everything that was told to them.

  1. Tia Will

    I am also quite perplexed by this story. I am not familiar with the rules surrounding use of the 24 hour reading area, however, as a graduate of UCD, I have used the facilities of the library on many occasions to research and have never encountered any questioning or resistance.

    Like BP, I agree that hearing both sides of this story would be interesting. What I would especially like to hear about is the details of the concern or complaint that brought the police to the library in the first place. The points of view of the two detaining officers would also be of interest.

    Will there be any follow up, David ?

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      My experience trying to get the other side of these stories is less than encouraging. I will try to learn what the original call was placed for.

        1. Davis Progressive

          that’s what a police log looks like.  actually it is more helpful than you think, it confirms the time, that it was a trespassing incident, and that he wasn’t charged.

  2. Tia Will

    David

    It would be impossible to hear the other side of the story.”

    It sounds like you have answered my question also, but is at least the initial call and/or the findings if he has filed a formal complaint with the university subject to request for public records ?

    Oops. It would seem that we are crossing posts. Thanks.

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Because that was his story. I think it’s important to bear witness to people stories so that we can understand how they experienced it – even as we understand that  it is onLy his perspective. My readers are smart enough to understand that.

      1. DavisAnon

        Agreed. I hope you find there’s more to the other side of the story. With the recent murder downtown, I’m wondering what Davis is now like for undergrads at night. As I’m not typically out at those hours, I hadn’t realized how much our community’s nightlife had changed, and obviously not for the better.

  3. Anon

    Tia Will: “What I would especially like to hear about is the details of the concern or complaint that brought the police to the library in the first place.

    I suspect (pun intended) that is the crux of the issue.  I have to wonder why didn’t library staff handle this situation, without resorting to calling the police?

  4. Biddlin

    Once again, a neighbour tells his story and BP immediately question his veracity, because he’s black. This part of the story never changes in the Vanguard.

    ;>)/

    1. Barack Palin

      So we only hear one side of the story and we’re supposed to just accept it without digging any deeper or hearing the other side?  Biddlin, do you remember “hands up, don’t shoot” and the lie that turned out to be?

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        First, I want to say, I have never asked anyone to accept any story on face value. I have never tried to shut people down from asking questions and I will always try to look further.

        Second, you do act as though there is no bs detector here. I meet with a ton of people, I hear a lot of stories. Only a small number of them actually get published. I sat down with the guy in my office. He was shaken by the experience. He also had an air about him – he was very gentle and soft spoken even in the face of what to him was a very humiliating experience. Based on my observation I tended to believe him. I will look further but in my view both he and his story were very credible.

        Third, I think we’re all smart enough to know there were two sides to every story, but that doesn’t mean we can’t tell someone’s story as they saw it. I see value in understand an encounter through one person’s eyes. I’m sure the police have another perspective, I doubt we’ll get to hear it. I think that’s unfortunate.

        1. TrueBlueDevil

          A little fleshing out might be worthy. There was no conclusion to this story from what I read, we don’t know his occupation, what he does, etc., just that he is a “former student”.

        2. TrueBlueDevil

          The conclusion to the story is highly relevant.

          His Facebook account seems to show a young man obsessed by race, quite common today on college campuses. I saw little indication of a fuller life – friends, activities, passions, religion, work, etc. Race seems to be a central issue, and it could be that he is hypersensitive, or looking to pick a confrontation. Who knows, we have so few uncorroborated details.

        3. sam23

          In the four years that I attended UC Davis I was pulled over several times for no apparent reason. Mind you that I never been pulled over anywhere else outside of Davis and I have been driving since I was 16.  Was it because I was black? I don’t know but I’m inclined to believe so

    2. hpierce

      Let’s see… by the story’s headline, David chose to emphasize “blackness”.  By doing so, the story was spun around a perceived ‘racial issue’, instead of police behavior.  Imagine if the ‘reporter’ had used a headline, “former student, while studying, was accosted by UCD police”.

      C’mon, BP isn’t the one who spun this on a racial basis.  I’m not one to defend BP, but saying his/her/other scepticism is based on “implicit” or overt bias, seems like a stretch.

      1. David Greenwald Post author

        The only point I would make is there is no way anyone would know that this guy was a former student just by looking at him. Someone called the police, if Fayia is telling an accurate story, then the only reason for the police to be called is that someone assumed a black man sitting in the 24 hour reading room wasn’t a student. BTW, I’m not sure that the problem here is just the police if that part of the story is accurate.

        1. sisterhood

          I’d like to know the official rules re: who’s allowed in the 24 hr reading room. I have used the law library on a few occasions and I am not a UC student. I was in my forties when I used the law library, and I’m white. No one questioned why I was in the law library. Was it illegal for me to be in that law library?

  5. Frankly

    Anyone… absolutely anyone… would have the same “shaken” feelings being detained by the cops like this.  But we do not know the rest of the story.  The fact that this person knew the cops by name is telling.  Had he been in trouble before?  What is his background and history?  What was the actual complaint that led to the cops detaining him?

    This is an irresponsible bit of reporting from someone prone to a “cops are racist” narrative.

    I smell a rat.

    1. Biddlin

      ” What was the actual complaint that led to the cops detaining him?”
      See title.Had they hassled him before? More likely. I smell something, too, emanating from a familiar source.

      ;>)/

      1. Frankly

        The vast majority of stories about police to fill up that cops-are-racist narrative prove to be either lies or so full of holes that they don’t hold up.  It is like Tawana Brawley and Crystal Gail Mangum stories keep repeating and folks like you cannot wait to use them before fully vetting them.

        Give me the full story and I will be the first to hold the cops responsible if their actions are not justified.

        1. Barack Palin

          Give me the full story and I will be the first to hold the cops responsible if their actions are not justified.

          That’s all I’m saying, but for some reason some of the usual suspects have a problem with that.

        2. Davis Progressive

          “I will be the first to hold the cops responsible if their actions are not justified.”

          i know you’re repeating a figure of speech, but you need to be honest.  you will never be the first to hold the cops responsible.  you may do so belatedly and begrudgingly but even then you’ll probably attempt to underplay the racial aspect.  eric garner, tamir rice, walter scott, freddie gray, and samuel dubose.  it seems even when grudging criticism is given to police in these cases, the race factors is downplayed.  i just don’t believe you are being honest with yourself.

        3. Frankly

          BS.

          For example, for the Walter Scott shooting, I wrote that that cop should be persecuted to the full extent of the law for murder.  But only after all the information came in to fill in enough of the blanks in the story.

          From what I have read about the Tamir Rice story, I think there is also a case to be made for murder.

          The other issues you mention are much more complicated and a best point to negligence.  Liberals love of tax revenue and endless rules-to-live-by had more to do with Eric Garner’s death.  You want those tax evaders prosecuted by the full extent of the law, right?

          But for every one of these few main left media sensationalized “cops-are-racist” stories, there are dozens of stories like this that get no national left media attention… and indicate that cops are justified in their assessment of greater probability of lawlessness and greater risk of harm from people of color.  That is an inconvenient statistical reality that you don’t seem to be capable of accepting.

          1. Don Shor

            Liberals love of tax revenue and endless rules-to-live-by had more to do with Eric Garner’s death. You want those tax evaders prosecuted by the full extent of the law, right?

            What a strange deflection of responsibility. He was killed by a chokehold. Excessive force was used and timely assistance was not provided. This has NOTHING to do with liberalism or regulations or anything. They could just as easily have been interacting with him due to jaywalking.

        4. Frankly

          Police are hired to enforce the law, not perform as judge and jury in each and every incident.  Those that support the growth of big government and more laws, regulations and rules to live by are culpable because without the huge tax on cigarettes they would not be the attractive black market opportunity for Eric Garner, and without the laws to crack down on the illegal selling of cigarettes (only because of the tax evasion) the cops would not have any reason to arrest him.

          And you jaywalking argument is bunk unless you have evidence of it.

          And the black female sergeant that supervised the entire procedure to detain Eric Garner believed they were all following protocol.  And…

          Adoni also said “The perpetrator’s condition did not seem serious and he did not appear to get worse.”

          But then it is so easy to armchair quarterback these things.

  6. Osahon

    When black people experience racism, there’s a certain segment of white America so uncomfortable about it they resort to extreme measure to redirect the conversation.

    Why should David have treated this former’s students account with skepticism. He isn’t the one with the history of on campus abuse. Why must there be two sides for you to empathize with this UC Davis graduate’s experience?

    And to reduce racism and police violence against blacks to a “narrative” is indicative of just how pervasive racism is. Just because some of you dont acknowledge facts dont mean they dont exist. Just because some of you are cowards ashamed to confront racism doesnt mean the rest of us should sit silently and live with it. When people of color discuss their experiences it isn’t for your approval. It’s for awareness and immediate change so spare us with the non helpful analysis.

    God some white people really believe that black people in all shapes and sizes collude to make people feel sorry for them…how do you people learn things? No seriously, how do people like you guys go from uninformed on an issue, to informed?

     

    1. Anon

      Why would the police be called just because a person was quietly reading in the library?  I would feel the same way no matter what ethnicity the person was – I don’t see that as particularly relevant.  It makes no sense to me that police would be asked to become involved in who is using the library.  Normally if the library can only be used by students, it would be the library personnel who would ask the person using the library for his/her ID.  I want to know who exactly made the complaint to the police, and why the library did not take care of any irregularities/failure to have a library card?  I don’t feel we have the full picture here.

      1. Osahon

        Your response is much appreciated. It’s problematic to consciously remove a proven societal bias that may have already been administered unconsciously.

        That’s why its so important to simply and silently listen and truly hear (ie research) why people of color feel discriminated against. That’s how we go from ignorance to our unconscious biases to enlightenment. Fight the knee jerk reaction to convey your moral high ground by eliminating race as a factor. That’s actually not how to do this. We don’t want you eliminating it as a factor after the fact….but to acknowledge how pervasive it might have been in the actual encounter.

        Also, for the record, most really really racist people truly don’t believe they are. Most mild racists don’t either….because instead of listening for understanding folks listen to try to disprove or show black folks they’re really overreacting.

         

         

        1. Barack Palin

          No seriously, how do people like you guys go from uninformed on an issue, to informed

          By delving into the facts and hearing both sides of the story.  How do you go from uninformed to informed on an issue?

        2. hpierce

          I guess I’m TRULY and “really, really” racist, as I have always felt ‘color-blind’, and my great-great grandfather and his brother operated an ‘underground railroad’ stop in western Pennsylvania.  I apologize for my overt racism, due my view that I am not racist. Mea culpa X 3.  Please, I ask all to forgive me for my racism.  [BS].

        3. hpierce

          Oh, Osahon, want to echo Sisterhood’s affirmation, and thank you for affirming my racism.  Part of my 12 step journey.

          “Also, for the record, most really really racist people truly don’t believe they are.”

           

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      Some non-black Americans see the perpetual search for grievances as overblown. People are sometimes rude, curt, distracted, stupid, or intolerant regardless of race. A person having a bad day can’t be having a bad day, they’re racist.

      Is there now a new allegation of “abuse” to this former student? I’d at least like to know what he is doing now, did he receive his PhD, is he teaching, etc.

      We’re not stupid. We can see patterns or inappropriate behavior, whether that is racism or victimhood or something else.

       

        1. Davis Progressive

          why does it matter if he has a full life?  he could be there because he’s bored and reading a book and still have the incident unfold as he described.

  7. TrueBlueDevil

    There are some holes in this story that might shed a little light, and some missing background.

    He is described as a former student. Is he now working, teaching, flipping pizzas or unemployed? His LinkedIn profile was studying art, film, the African diaspora, etc., and one of his skills is editing, yet he misspelled Berkeley.

    The story claims he was manhandled, and then jumps into Peppergate and other talk. What concluded the alleged incident? Did they realize he wasn’t the person they were looking for, was he arrested, was he let go for another reason, was he arrested for a crime?

    He alleges to David that he is often a victim of WWB and BWB (walking / biking while black) in Davis.

    His Facebook account is dominated by Left and racial politics. Malcolm X, BlackLivesMatter, his photo with Henry Louis Gates and Harry Belafonte, etc. There are also a few links to Sierra Leon, possibly his homeland. A number of the links came off like claptrap.

    Particularly interesting was his KDVS / campus video clip posting (11 minutes) of an on-campus meeting of black male students, partially led be a campus Vice Chancellor who is black. Their discussion focused on black men acknowledging other black men as some form of bond or kinship because they felt Davis wasn’t “diverse”. To start with, he states that the campus is only 1% black, yet another student there states the campus is 2.9% black. Apparently some of the black male students have their feelings hurt or desire other black males students to say “what’s up” or give a head nod in a sign of solidarity when they pass on the quad. One student is independent and sees no such need. The Vice Chancellor says something like, “So if you not acknowledged you are shunned.” A very interesting statement.

        1. Davis Progressive

          there’s a major difference.  a conservative website is not an objective news source.  the individual describing his own experience is not expected to be impartial.  we know he has his own perspective.  we don’t know in this case the other side of the story, but he could be right wing conservative anti-government person or a left-wing blacklivesmatter activist and the police still could have made mistakes.

        2. Davis Progressive

          btw, as much you and i differ on things, i respect the fact that you at least respond to posts.  tbd has an annoying habit of completely ignoring factual corrections.  notice above when i posted the police log, he never responded even though he has posted several additional times in this article.

    1. Frankly

      Good work TBD.

      I smell a bigger rat.

      Do we even know if this story is true fact or made up?

      I am guessing it is made up… or at least strongly embellished.

      May I suggest that the bar for inferring racism be set proportionately high as the justified public scorn for proven racism?   If it is a big deal, and I agree that it is a big deal, then the accusation needs to be a well-vetted and complete story… getting and reporting information from all relevant parties and sides… not just taking the word of someone with a known agenda.

      1. Topcat

        I am guessing it is made up… or at least strongly embellished.

        I suspect that the Mr. Sellu has a good idea of why he was detained but is not telling us.  Perhaps he told the Vanguard the stated reason for his detention, but the Vanguard failed to report it because it undermines their narrative.

        1. Barack Palin

          Topcat, there’s definitely more to this story.  I think putting “studying while black” into the headline without knowing the entire story was just an attempt at sensationalizing this occurrence.

          1. David Greenwald Post author

            You guys did see the police log (as posted by DP) indicated it was a “trespass” with suspended disposition.

        2. Topcat

          You guys did see the police log (as posted by DP) indicated it was a “trespass” with suspended disposition.

          Yes, I did see the police log. This still does not answer the question of why the police were called.  Was he disturbing other patrons.  Was he sleeping and appearing to be homeless?  Was he doing something that appeared threatening?

    2. sisterhood

      re: Facebook “sleuthing”, it does not give an accurate portrayal of any human being’s life experiences. It is a social media tool that some folks like and others don’t. In the old days, would someone open a high school kid’s locker and stare at the photo’s taped to that locker, and be able to really explain that person? In the old days, would someone spy on a college dorm wall and think that the pics and posters on that student’s dorm wall were the complete portrayal of anyone? Anyone who reads the Vanguard has probably also read an interesting book that differs from your own personal beliefs. Maybe you were intrigued by a piece of art in a museum. Maybe you even liked Harry Belafonte. Did that define your entire personality?

      I continue to be disturbed by law enforcement’s probable harassment of this young man.

      1. Barack Palin

        I think Facebook gives a pretty good portrayal of one’s life.  For instance, you can see actual conversations and topics of interest and political leanings.  Take the recent U.C. Davis student senator Azka Fayyaz’s revelations that came forward that were found on her Facebook page during the Israel divestment vote.  One can look at most individual’s Facebook page and have a decent account of what that person is all about.  

  8. Osahon

    If any of you were violently apprehended but not charged for sitting in the library, would you see an issue with it?

    That’s an impossible question, because nobody caucasian will ever be violently apprehended for something so silly.

    1. sisterhood

      “…nobody caucasian will ever be violently apprehended for something so silly.”

      Hello again. I am very glad you are contributing your view here. I feel compelled to tell you, I’m a white woman who was physically assaulted, imho, by being handcuffed by law enforcement for no reason whatsoever. The handcuffs hurt, a lot.  I did nothing whatsoever to law enforcement to provoke them into handcuffing me. I am not comparing my experience to a rough ride or other physical dangers. But the handcuffs did hurt, a lot.

  9. MrsW

    This happens all the time.  I have planned to meet black friends in public places and arrived 5 minutes late, to see them being questioned by police or security because someone called to report a “loitering black man.”

    If Mr. Sellu were my son, I would be so grateful, that he is OK! I would also be concerned for his “head.” He is still shaken by the experience and he is going to have to be a strong person, to make sure that this experience doesn’t jump start his own “confirmation bias” about policemen, to the point where encounters with policemen become self-fulfilling prophesies and it affects his quality of life.

    Rather than make a scene inside the reading room, he said, he was asked to go outside and sort out his identification. 

    As a practical matter, Mr Sellu can help himself, by doing his best to make sure any encounter with the police has witnesses. He will feel safer.  If there are any policemen who read this blog– I would be interested in knowing, what reply could Mr. Sellu have given, where he could have stayed in the Reading Room to show his identification?

     

      1. MrsW

        Have African American family and friends in Davis, Sacramento, Palo Alto, Berkeley, Oakland, and Costa Mesa.  They are an articulate bunch, so usually when they open their mouths, things start to go more smoothly.  But not always.  Haven’t had an incident in Davis for awhile. The most recent incident was in Costa Mesa this summer, with a now 50 year old, UC Davis graduate bioinformatics specialist (computer programming and stats). Pulled over for rolling through a stop sign and ended up out of the car, legs spread, etc. An opportunity to model to his son how to behave with the police.

  10. gunrock9

    Wow.  I am amazed at how terrible this article is.  There is an amazing lack of perspective displayed in this writing, and entirely too much conjecture.  This barely qualifies as journalism.  Get more than one person’s side of a story before you repackage someone’s opinion on an incident as “news.”

    1. Barack Palin

      Gotta agree with you Gunrock.  IMO the story fit the Vanguard’s usual agenda so David decided to run with it including the inflammatory title of “Studying while black …..” even though there is no proof that’s why the person was confronted.

    2. Topcat

      I am amazed at how terrible this article is.

      Yes, Unless he is completely devoid of self-awareness, I am sure that Mr. Sellu has some idea of why a complaint was made and the police were called, yet he either failed to communicate that to the Vanguard or the Vanguard failed to report it.

      1. Davis Progressive

        actually the few facts that we know from the police log that i posted the link to above corroborate his story.  he was arrested for trespassing.  he was not charged.  he filed a complaint.  there is an investigation into his complaint.  that’s all we know right now unless the police divulge additional information.

  11. Tia Will

    A note on mistaken attempted use of resources and its outcome.

    When in my mid50’s, I erroneously believed that my status as a volunteer faculty for UCD allowed me to check out books from the library automatically. I took my selections  to check out and asked them to look up my status by name as I had not brought my confirming ID. They told me I could not check them out. It seemed that one had to complete an additional form to remove materials from the library. No fuss, no concern. I filled out the form, received my temp card and left with my books. No fuss, no concern that I was up to anything nefarious. Just a polite discussion of the rules and completion of the necessary process.

    I can’t help but wonder what factors went into the police suspicion ( or that of anyone else) that there was something occurring here that was worthy of a call to the police rather than just a discussion of university police for use of the reading room ?  I also do not see this as “the whole story” but am much less likely to “smell a rat” than are some of the posters here who seem to be willing to leap to conclusions on ( correctly identified) minimal information.

    1. Topcat

      I can’t help but wonder what factors went into the police suspicion ( or that of anyone else) that there was something occurring here that was worthy of a call to the police rather than just a discussion of university police for use of the reading room ?

      Yes, I hope that the real reason for calling the police will come out.  There is clearly more to the story than we are being told.

        1. David Greenwald Post author

          I have requested a copy of the police report – I usually get some redacted account but that may be somewhat helpful here. The Chief told me there is an ongoing investigation, but a variety of laws will limit what we can learn from that.

    2. sisterhood

      Tia- interesting info from you re: checking out books.I read the law materials in the library and returned/re-shelved them before I left.  I did not check them out. I wonder if what I did was illegal. No one questioned my presence there on a few occasions, several years back. Still wondering why this man was harassed.

       

  12. Tia Will

    Osahon

    That’s an impossible question, because nobody caucasian will ever be violently apprehended for something so silly.”

    I also am appreciative of you sharing your perspective here. I hope that you will understand that I have a different perspective based on my life experiences. I believe that you are in error that “nobody caucasian will ever be violently apprehended for something so silly”.

    In the pepper spray incident on UCD we saw a number of Caucasian students assaulted illegally for sitting peacefully on a walkway with arms linked in a defensive pose for the “crime” of not dispersing when told to do so.

    In the late 60’s and early 70’s many of my Caucasian friends received rough treatment at the hands of the police for merely attending ( not failure to disperse) from Viet Nam war protests. It was a white woman innocently walking across the quad at Kent State who was killed for the crime of entering an area of protest while moving from one part of the school she was attending to another.

    So while I agree wholeheartedly that minorities are much more likely than Caucasians to be detained and roughly treated than are Caucasians, no one is immune to the use of excessive force by the police.

    I make this point because there are two separate ( albeit related) issues here that tend to get blurred. One is discriminatory behavior based on skin color. The other is the excessive use of force by the police. The existence of the former does not exclude anyone from the latter.

     

    1. David Greenwald Post author

      Tia: It’s also possible that just as the Eli Davis case was not just about the police, so too was the case potentially as much about someone calling the police as the overresponse of the police themselves.

    2. TrueBlueDevil

      I also think it is much more likely that minorities will not follow a police officer’s directions, and / or give an officer lip and be uncooperative. Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

      1. Alan Miller

        I also think it is much more likely that minorities will not follow a police officer’s directions, and / or give an officer lip and be uncooperative.

        Wow.  No one else found the above line patently offensive?

    3. Osahon

      How’s this for perspective? Almost every black man you’llever meet has been violated by police. I have too.

      Have you been assaulted by police? How about anyone you know. The UCD pepper spray incident was such an outlier it made international news. Is that really a comparison?

      1. TrueBlueDevil

        Osahon, the ironic thing is that through my life I have had many black friends, and rarely is there ever any odd behavior from police or others. A friend was questioned by police in a hot tub late one night in Davis, he was mouthy, so the encounter was most likely lengthened because of his defiant behavior. But he was never arrested, never cuffed, never cited.

        A relative when I was young was pulled over by police, he quickly reached for his ID in the glove box, and two police drew their guns. I learned then to move slowly when pulled over, and to tell the officer what I am doing. “I’m going to retrieve my registration in the glove box, officer.” Move slowly, show respect.

        1. Barack Palin

          Just about everyone has a cop pulling them over or a you fit the suspect’s identity story. I know this white guy does.  I think blacks tend to look at those same incidents in a racial manner whether they are or not.

        2. Alan Miller

          “I’m going to retrieve my registration in the glove box, officer.”

          That’s also a really useful line when you are reaching for the gun in your glove box.

      2. sisterhood

        Hello Osahon,
        Yes I know many folks of colour who’ve been physically violated by law enforcement. I also have many friends who were pulled over for the ubiquitous flickering tailight. But not every single person I know.

        I respectfully disagree w/ your opinion the pepper spray student incident is an outlier. I side with Tia that many students in the 60’s were harassed by law enforcement while peacefully protesting.

        And many suffragettes in our country were handled roughly by cops and thrown in jail for demonstrating for the right for women to vote in this country.

        But not every single woman in the U.S. was mistreated by law enforcement, and not every single college student in the 60’s was harassed by cops.

        You have a unique life experience and it is different than my life experience. That’s why I sincerely thank you for taking your time to write your opinions on the Vanguard. You can help be the solution.

      3. Tia Will

        Osahon

        I work with black men who have never been “violated” by police. As a white woman, it is true that I have never been physically assaulted by the police. However, I did experience some rather direct and rough “encouragement” to move along during my Viet Nam war protesting days. As a doctor working 90 hour weeks when I was in my 30’s, and then 50 hour weeks until the last 10 years or so, I was rarely in situations where I would have encountered the police at all.

        I recognized in my comment that minority men do seem to bear the brunt of police excess. However, my objection was to your over generalization “nobody Caucasian will ever be….”.

        These types of hyperbolic statements undermine the essential truth of your point which is a shame since it will then be used by those who wish to claim that racial discrimination today is negligible as some posters here commonly claim.

  13. Tia Will

    David

    I believe that you are correct. I also question all aspects of how this even became an issue in the first place. If this is indeed trespass, it seems a very mild form of misbehavior, perhaps entirely innocent as was my attempt to remove library materials without securing appropriate permission due to ignorance of the rules. It is curious to me from beginning to end. Why did this individual attract notice ? Why was the need felt to involve the police ? Why did the police believe that “a scene” might ensue ?

    Much to question here.

    1. Topcat

      It is curious to me from beginning to end. Why did this individual attract notice ? Why was the need felt to involve the police ? Why did the police believe that “a scene” might ensue ?

      Yes, I have the same questions.

      1. Biddlin

        Me, too. I will admit to some subject bias, here. For decades, I used a music practice room at a local college, usually at midnight or after and the handful of times I was questioned, I was with someone of colour. Strange coincidence, huh?

        ;>)/

  14. Emily Bruce

    I just want to point out that everyone is failing to look at the basic point of this article: “On approach of the lobby, Officer Sheffield dashed for my right armed and twisted it in a motion as to get me face down. Two other officers waiting in the wings of the lobby joined in and handcuffed me with no apparent tussle…” 

    Police are instructed to use these types of tactics when a person is under arrest and/or a harm to police. The problem here is the response by the police. This is what we have to remember. The police responded excessively and that is what we have to keep in mind.

    Also, when a person places a 9-1-1 call or suspicious activity call, the caller is required to describe what the person looks like… Just saying… So the officers were not walking in blind.

    1. Topcat

      Police are instructed to use these types of tactics when a person is under arrest and/or a harm to police. The problem here is the response by the police. This is what we have to remember. The police responded excessively and that is what we have to keep in mind.

      We don’t know whether the UC Police responded excessively or not since we really don’t know what the circumstances were.  We only have one side of the story. We also do not know what the reason was for the police being called in the first place.

      1. Davis Progressive

        if we get the police’s side of the story – will we “know”?  will you accept their story?  or will you consider the possibility that they aren’t telling the truth?  in other words, you are choosing to disbelieve this man’s account because you have one side of the story, but will you simply accept the police’s story?

        1. Barack Palin

          Not at all, we’ve only heard from one side, if/when we hear from the other side things might better fall into place.  To me Mr. Sellu’s story has many holes in it.

          The nation was quick to jump on the “hands up, don’t shoot” version until the whole story came out and we found that was a lie.

          Back at you, why do you seem so willing to believe this man’s account before you have all the facts?

  15. TrueBlueDevil

    If he left out a material fact / facts, that would make me question his whole story. Has he had a previous altercation or history with the library he left out?

    This story was also incomplete as we don’t know how the encounter ended.

    It smells.

  16. MrsW

    This is what I imagine happened.  Mr. Sellu probably stumbled or tripped, which he didn’t think any more about.  However, by stumbling or tripping, he called attention to himself.  Then, the person who called the police reported a black man who may be high (or similar) is in the library.  Then, the police came and had no tools in their toolkit to have any response other than one that was over-the-top.

    Would like to hear from police, what their standard operating procedure is, if they think someone is high in a public place and if it includes physically twisting arms and handcuffs.

      1. Barack Palin

        I am still waiting for response from University police, why experiences we will not likely find out much more than we already know

        So what do we really already know?  That a man claims to have been handled rough, believes it was because of race and a very vague police report?

        1. MrsW

          …or the man believes he is more visible because of his race, more apt to be reported to the police for innocuous behavior because of his race, and the police response should recognize that reality

    1. Topcat

      There is a lot of missing information in the story as told by Mr Sellu. This is certainly a case where a body camera would settle any disagreement about what actually happened.  I do think that the police are well trained to handle situations like this and they are well aware of the need to use only the amount of force required to get the situation safely and quickly under control.

      The police certainly know that there is no such crime as “Studying while black”.

    2. Topcat

      This is what I imagine happened.  Mr. Sellu probably stumbled or tripped, which he didn’t think any more about.  However, by stumbling or tripping, he called attention to himself.

      I could come up with a half a dozen different possible scenarios for what happened, but it would all be guessing and imagining what might have happened.  Unless we get the police report or a full explanation from the campus police department, we’ll never know what actually happened.

      1. Barack Palin

        Exactly, I could guess too that he became belligerent and threatened the cops and that’s why they took him down, but then that would just be my imagined useless scenario.

        We don’t know all the facts!

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