Someone Called the Police on a Black UMass Amherst Employee for No Reason

An anonymous caller said Reginald Andrade appeared "agitated." He says it's yet another case of racial profiling.

“UMass Amherst” by Ryan Scott Flickr/Creative Commons. / Ryan Scott

In what he believes is yet another case of unnecessary calls to police to racial profiling, a longtime UMass Amherst employee says he was confronted by police Friday after an anonymous report of an “agitated black male” on campus.

According to the campus newspaper the Massachusetts Daily Collegian, police received a message on an anonymous tip line about a black man carrying a duffle bag early Friday morning into a UMass administration building. Officers briefly placed the building on lockdown, quickly found the man who met the description provided in the message, and interviewed the suspect. But, in a scene that has been documented again and again at colleges and in public spaces like pools, there was no threat. It was just Reginald Andrade, a 14-year employee at the school’s Disability Services office, heading to the gym.

“No one else gets racially profiled in my office, just me,” Andrade tells the school paper, which was first to report the story, adding, “UMass was just rated number 26 in the country for a public university. People are still getting racially profiled coming from the gym.” He tells the Daily Hampshire Gazette this was his third brush with police on the campus for no discernible reason.

Chancellor Kumble Subbaswamy responded to the incident in a message to students, as reported by the Gazette. “For our community, this is a difficult matter,” he wrote. “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.”

Campus Police Chief Tyrone Parham tells the Daily Collegian that officers responded appropriately to a possible threat, did not take the suspect’s race into account when they did so, and “tried to be as professional as we could” when they spoke with Andrade. They also say they would like to speak with the person who made the call, but are not able to make contact through the anonymous system.

The incident comes not long after a similar scenario played out at nearby Smith College, where an employee called police to report a “suspicious” person eating lunch in a common area at the women’s college, only to find that the person, a black woman, was a teaching assistant.