Columbia Professor Says He Was Racially Targeted by School’s Security

Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images
Michael M. Santiago/Getty Images

A professor at Columbia University said he was the victim of targeted harassment from campus security officers after the school beefed-up safety protocols in response to the ongoing pro-Palestinian encampment.

Dr. Carl Hart, a psychology professor at Columbia University, spoke to The Daily Beast about an “explosive interaction” he had with security personnel on Thursday, which he also briefly described on X.

Hart and his wife were entering campus on Thursday afternoon, when a security guard chased him down, claiming he hadn’t properly checked in.

Hart said he’d been exasperated by the new security lines into campus, but had followed protocol, scanning into the security system. He told the guard as much, but the exchange was heated, Hart said.

“He said I was threatening him, and of course I wasn’t, I was walking into work,” Hart said. Hart said the man who stopped him was wearing a public safety vest, and he speculated that the man was not from Apex Security, but an undercover NYPD officer.

Earlier this week, Columbia’s chief operating officer Cas Holloway announced that the university would “more than double” the number of safety officers on its campus, adding an additional 35 security guards to each shift.

When Hart finally arrived at his office at Schermerhorn Hall, he was greeted by more than half a dozen security officers, and they again accused him of not signing into campus. They began arguing, as Hart pointed out his name on a placard on the wall beside his office door.

“One of the guys said ‘don’t push me,’ but I hadn’t. He was just trying to escalate,” Hart said.

“I was singled out because of who I am, because I’m a Black man, and I was not showing them the proper amount of deference because ‘I don’t know my place,’” he said. “These security guys have gotten the message that it’s OK to disrespect, disregard the rights of Black men.”

Hart said that this incident was a piece of a larger problem, one which threatens to grow as more universities send law enforcement after their own protesting students: police brutality against students of color.

“They did this to me, a tenured, full professor,” Hart wrote on X. “Imagine how they are treating our Black male students.”

“The students don’t have an office where they can point their name on the door, and they can see how silly this is,” he told The Daily Beast. “They don’t have the confidence to challenge these people when they know something is amiss.”

“In this current environment, what we’re talking about in terms of antisemitic behavior, we don’t want to forget what is going on in our country with anti-Black hostility and discrimination,” Hart said.

In her statement authorizing the New York Police Department to arrest over 100 peaceful protesters, Columbia University President said she was acting out of “an abundance of concern for the safety of Columbia’s campus.” Conversely, it seems she has introduced a new threat of danger for certain members of her campus who could become the victims of targeted, racist harassment by the NYPD and other security personnel.

Across the country, there have been disturbing incidents in the interactions between law enforcement and university students. At Emory University, on Wednesday, over 800 miles away from the Ivy-league encampment, cops deployed tear gas on protesters, and in one disturbing video, were seen tasing a Black man as he lay handcuffed on the ground.

Read more at The Daily Beast.

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