OPINION: Why is this Black woman enraged?

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I am not here to speak on behalf of all Black students. Obviously, everyone has their own DePauw experience. So, as a Black woman who has been on DePauw’s campus for almost three and a half years, I am upset about the way the Black men were treated in comparison to the white woman on Wednesday, September 23, 2015 in Bowman Park. 

A white woman throws a cup of hot coffee at protesters and gets her hand held. She is immediately escorted away from the situation. Even a child knows the dangers of tossing hot coffee at another human being—someone can get burned. In comparison, Black men protest alongside of an opposing group of protesters. They are slammed onto hard concrete and put in hand cuffs. 

Let us also keep in mind that the unwanted group of protesters was not removed from DePauw’s campus because protesting is completely legal on public property. Now, let us review the “legal term” assault. If one types “assault” into Google’s search engine, the first definition that appears is: “In common law, assault is the act of creating apprehension of an imminent harmful or offensive contact with a person. An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm.”

Assault sincerely depicts the action of the white woman who tosses the coffee at the opposing group of protesters. The tossing of hot coffee towards another person is considered “a threat of bodily harm” as it has the “ability to cause harm” to another person. The responsibility of law enforcers is clearly to enforce the law. Yes, I would agree that the law is enforced as the white woman is removed from the scene. It is the way that she is removed from the scene in comparison to the way that the Black men are removed from the scene that is unjust. 

The Black men, just as the opposing group of protesters, perform a legal action of protesting. Although protesting is completely legal, Black men are slammed onto hard concrete.

Arguments are: The Black men “looked like a threat.” The definition of assault does not accommodate for someone who “looked like a threat.” It clearly states that “An assault is carried out by a threat of bodily harm coupled with an apparent, present ability to cause the harm,” which I do not view protesting as doing.

Let us also remember that these men belong to DePauw’s community and should not have to experience pure humiliation for standing up for what they believed in. So, my question is: “What consequences do policemen face for assaulting Black men who were performing the legal act of protesting?” President Casey’s answers, “It is what it is.” His response is not enough to make me, a student of the Black community, feel safe at DePauw University. “It is what is” tells me that my feelings do not matter and that my life is in danger if I decide to engage in the legal action of protesting. Now, I ask myself if paying $56,000 for a prestigious education is worth the chances of experiencing police brutality.   

 

-Jones is a senior English writing and women’s studies major from St. Louis, Missouri