"All I did was be black": College employee calls police on black woman eating her lunch, because she seemed "out of place"
Shortly after Kanoute's Facebook post on Tuesday, Smith College released a statement saying that the officer who responded to the employee's call did not find anything suspicious.
Police was called on a black Smith College student who was eating her lunch in a common area because she "seemed to be out of place," the school said. The campus police was reportedly called by an employee of the institution on Tuesday. The student, identified as Oumou Kanoute, works at Smith College as a teaching assistant and is a residential adviser for the summer period. Report state that Kanoute was taking a break from work when a police officer approached her and asked her purpose for being on the campus.
Kanoute wrote about her harrowing encounter in a Facebook post: "I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black." She also added that the incident made her "nervous" and caused her emotional distress.
"No student of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions," Kanoute wrote. "I worked my hardest to get into Smith, and I deserve to feel safe on my campus."
Shortly after Kanoute's Facebook post on Tuesday, Smith College released a statement saying that the officer who responded to the employee's call did not find anything suspicious with the student. The college also added that it is going to probe the employee who called the officer and offered support to the affected student.
Title IX coordinator Amy Hunter, talking about the incident, said: "This incident has raised concerns in our community about bias and equity. Smith College does not tolerate race- or gender-based discrimination in any form. Such behavior can contribute to a climate of fear, hostility and exclusion that has no place in our community," HuffPost reported.
A day after the incident, Kanoute wrote another Facebook post on Wednesday, asking her friends to support her in her request to release the name of the employee who had reported her to the authorities.
"I demanded that the administration share the name of the person who made the 9-1-1 call so that they can confront and acknowledge the harm done to me as [a] student," Kanoute wrote. Her post received nearly 2,000 shares and over 600 comments with users supporting her.
In response to Oumou Kanoute's request, Smith College said that it has received multiple requests to release the name of the employee, however, the school's policy does not allow them to release the name in campus police records, reports state.