Saturday, June 28, 2014
In support of ASU Professor Ersula Ore, who was walking home from campus on May 21, 2014 and stopped and questioned by an ASU police officer, the Arizona Ethnic Studies Network released a statement recently in support of the professor and to call attention to her case.
You can read the entire statement here. Snippet:
On the evening of May 21, 2014, Dr. Ersula Ore, a professor in the English department at ASU, was walking home from campus after teaching a summer course. Dr. Ore, who is African American, was stopped and questioned by a male ASU police officer patrolling the area in his vehicle. After a short exchange with the officer, a brief physical altercation ensued in which Dr. Ore, who was wearing a dress, was forced up against the officer’s car and then onto the ground, fully exposing portions of her lower body to the public. Eyewitness accounts of the incident, including video evidence, support Dr. Ore’s assertion that the officer did not clearly inform her regarding why she was being stopped or inform her of her rights, and engaged in excessive force during her detention. Despite these questionable circumstances, however, Dr. Ore has subsequently been charged with felony aggravated assault on the officer, among other charges.
We are troubled by the responses of the media, University, and ASU Police Department about this incident. Media versions have presented a sensationalized, one-sided story that differs substantially from Dr. Ore’s and eyewitness accounts. Officials at ASU, in response to questions about the incident and possible racial profiling, have sought to distance the University, stating that 1) because the incident occurred on a public street between parts of campus, it was technically “off campus,” so Dr. Ore was a private citizen; and 2) although they will comply with any investigation, there is no evidence of racial profiling. We find these responses insufficient. First, the officer involved was an ASU police officer and the University is responsible for the conduct of its employees, including its police force. Second, whether as a private citizen or as a member of the ASU community, Dr. Ore has the right to expect dignified and humane treatment by ASU’s police officers. ASU, as a public institution, has a responsibility to ensure this occurs. Third, ASU has not undertaken a thorough investigation into the matter, so how can officials claim that there is an absence of racial profiling? In a state and metropolitan region in which racial profiling has been proven to be widespread, the ASU administration’s lack of concern for the well-being of an ASU community member of color is unacceptable.
In further response to what many supporters of Ore feel—that ASU are working to discredit the cultural studies professor—a website is up regarding her case and to engage support and further information. The website is erslegaldefense.com/.
A petition is also gaining speed—on Moveon.org—with 1,224 signature and a goal of 2,000. The signatures will be delivered to ASU police and ASU President Michael Crow.
To be delivered to Tempe Arizona Police, Michael Crow, University President, and Michael Crow, University President. The petition is here.