Students at the University at Albany were outraged when university police arrested 19-year old Ali Mohamed Sanoh. It wasn’t long before the students staged a protest against “police brutality and racial issues on campus” according to the Albany Student Press. The Student Association promptly hosted an “emergency town hall to discuss the racial climate on campus” which was facilitated by university officials.
One student that led the protest said that officers from the university police department (UPD) not only deny the excessive use of force against Sanoh but that they deny it in all the controversial police encounters over the past two years. In a video posted to Twitter, they said, “We understand as a community that many officers do not believe that what happened was an excessive use of force. Nor do they believe that anything that has happened in the last couple of years was unnecessary.”
Students marched around the campus center chanting. They carried signs that read “Black is Not a Crime,” “Systematic Racism = Violence,” and “Who Does the Police Protect?”
Despite the narrative pushed by students that the arrest was racially motivated, police approached Sanoh, who is not a student of the university, for allegedly harassing a university employee. Seeing that he had a group of people with him, multiple police officers responded to the call. When confronted, Sanoh gave them false information despite a warning that giving false identification would result in his arrest. He then allegedly resisted arrest as multiple officers took him to the ground. According to UPD, crowding the suspect with multiple officers is done to control them with minimal force.
UPD claims to have followed basic protocol and adhered to state and federal laws in their actions leading up to and including the arrest. UAlbany Police Chief J. Frank Wiley, who is himself a man of color, “asked students and faculty to reserve judgment until the investigation is complete,” according to the Times Union.
A statement from university police reads, “no injuries were reported as a result of this incident.” There will also be a review of the incident that “includes video recorded by a witness as well as cameras in the building and worn by our officers. All video, witness statements, and other information is included in the department’s use-of-force reviews.”
Sanoh was charged with false impersonation, resisting arrest, harassment, and drug charges, as reported by the Times Union. Sanoh was arrested again the day after the initial incident for allegedly breaking into student’s residents gaining additional charges of “trespassing, loitering on campus and harassment,” according to the Times Union.
Liberals and conservatives alike can agree that race should not affect how law enforcement interacts with individuals. However, that doesn’t justify attributing racism and excessive force to police every time they make an arrest. From the information available it doesn’t seem like systemic racism, police brutality, or excessive force characterized Sanoh’s arrest. Automatically assuming racist motives and responding the way UAlbany students did makes it more difficult to bring attention to when real unjust acts are committed. The response from students and the subsequent pandering from the university demonstrates the anti-law enforcement bias present among the left and academia.
The views expressed in this article are the opinion of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Lone Conservative staff.