The Smith College employee who called police on a black student who she believed looked “out of place” has been placed on leave amid an ongoing investigation into the incident, according to a statement from the school.
“We are committed to timely and transparent communication throughout this investigation, and will send further updates to the community as soon as they are available,” reads a statement from Smith College Interim Director of Inclusion, Diversity and Equity, Amy Hunter.
Oumou Kanoute, a student at Smith College working as a teaching assistant and residential adviser, was eating lunch in a dorm common area on July 31 when an officer with the Northampton Police Department approached her.
“I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black,” Kanoute wrote on Facebook. “It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a women of color.”
Videos of the incident recorded by Kanoute captured audio of her interaction with the responding officer. In one video, Kanoute can be heard explaining to the officer that she was on a break and relaxing in the common area.
“No students of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions,” Kanoute wrote.
I am blown away at the fact that i cannot even sit down and eat lunch peacefully. Today someone felt the need to call the police on me while I was sitting down reading, and eating in a common room at Smith College. This person didn’t try to bring their concerns forward to me,but instead decided to call the police. I did nothing wrong, I wasn’t making any noise or bothering anyone. All I did was be black. It’s outrageous that some people question my being at Smith College, and my existence overall as a women of color. I was very nervous, and had a complete metldown after this incident. It’s just wrong and uncalled for. No students of color should have to explain why they belong at prestigious white institutions. I worked my hardest to get into Smith, and I deserve to feel safe on my campus