A Black University Massachusetts Amherst employee had the cops called on him as he walked to his job at the campus’ recreation center on Friday, according to the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
The university received a call on its anonymous tip line on Friday saying that a “very agitated” Black man, identified as Reg Andrade, had a “large duffel bag … hanging off a strap, very heavy hanging on the ground,” according to a transcript of the call.
Andrade, who works as a case manager at UMass’s disability service office and has worked at the university for 14 years, said he was greeted by police officers when he came back from the bathroom.
He claims officers asked him about what he did the night before, what time he got to campus and whether he was angry as he walked into the building. Andrade believes he was racially profiled.
“How can somebody just walk by me, not even speaking, and try to discern that I was agitated?” he told the Gazette. “This is when it becomes dangerous, when people know how to push the buttons of law enforcement … Those were those strong key buzzwords: agitated black man dragging a heavy bag.”
The university’s chancellor, Kumble Subbaswamy, said he hoped the call was intended for public safety but understands the harm that racial profiling causes.
“For our community, this is a difficult matter,” Subbaswamy wrote in an email to the UMass community. “We are living at the intersection of two very trying issues. We must all do our part to respond quickly to perceived threats of potential violence on campus, and we must build an inclusive community that respects everyone and rejects profiling.”
Andrade said this incident is the third time he’s faced discrimination at the school.
He said that when he was a student he had the police called on him when he was sitting in a classroom listening to an audiobook, and another time as an employee after he finished working the school’s new student orientation.
“Each time it gets deeper and deeper and more intense,” he told the Gazette. “And psychologically, emotionally and physically, it’s just draining.”