Video Of Black American University Student Being Dragged Out Of Her Apartment By Campus Police Ignites Protests
A video of the incident released last month led to a hearing that eventually reversed the student’s suspension.
Protests erupted on the campus of American University after a student, who was dragged out of her off-campus apartment last month by school officers, had her suspension overturned.
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Gianna Wheeler was in her apartment when police showed up and dragged her by her feet into the hallway. Protesters say they believe police used excessive force to remove the student.
American University, Wheeler and campus police have not said exactly what happened before the video of the incident was recorded, The Eagle reported.
The school tweeted a statement noting there were “questions and concerns” and that Wheeler was “safe,” but offering no other information, Patch reported.
In response to the controversy surrounding the video, American University officials released a statement to Fox 5 last month stating student safety is one of their primary concerns as an institution.
We are dedicated to the safety and well-being of all our students. AUPD begins all actions with the goal of de-escalating emergency situations, with officers regularly trained in response techniques and procedures that focus on the welfare of all involved parties.— American University (@AmericanU) September 29, 2019
“As a University, we are focused on the safety and welfare of all of our students. Our emergency response to members of the AU community is a collaborative effort between AUPD, the Office of Campus Life, the AU Counseling Center, and others to ensure a comprehensive effort that de-escalates a situation, prioritizes safety and provides the support required,” the statement read.
Wheeler was not criminally charged after being detained by police, but received a month-long suspension sparking controversy on the campus, Fox 5 reported.
WARNING: Hard to watch. Video shows @AmericanU police officers dragging student out of her apartment. Protests on campus today coincided w discipline hearing. Sources say student was found not guilty of conduct violations. Live at 10 & 11. @fox5dc https://t.co/XMStW4UU6s— Evan Lambert (@EvanLambertTV) October 29, 2019
A disciplinary hearing for the student was held on Monday. Fox 5 reported Wheeler was found "not guilty" of the unknown offenses and had her suspension overturned.
Black Lives Matter D.C. and more than 100 students attended a protest, advocating on Wheeler’s behalf, The Eagle and Patch reported. AWOL, American University’s student investigative publication, also reported on the protest.
“It was super important that we stood up for Gianna today only because one that could have been any one of us or any student at AU and two, Black students are being tired of being mistreated at AU,” said junior Michelle Emenonye.
Chyna Brodie, a freshman at American University who helped organize the protests, told AWOL that the university’s administrators need to respond to student’s concerns about racism on campus.
“This isn’t an issue just for Black people, this is an issue for everyone,” Brodie said in her interview with AWOL.
American University has experienced other controversies in the past few years, Blavity reported.
In 2016, a Black student had a banana thrown at her, and another student discovered a rotten banana along with a drawing of the male anatomy near her door.
Another controversy at the university involved Taylor Dumpson, a former student body president and member of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., who required police protection after she was reportedly threatened by Neo-Nazis.