The campus of Harvard Business School and Harvard University, July 26, 2016 in Boston, Massachusetts. Harvard, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, emphasizes the case method in the classroom. (Photo by Brooks Kraft/Corbis via Getty Images)
*A false 911 call led to four Black Harvard University students being wrongfully held at gunpoint on Monday.
Armed officers with the Harvard University Police Department raided an undergraduate suite in Leverett House after receiving a 911 call about a person with a gun “threatening violence against occupants,” ABC News reports. The officers ordered the four seniors living in the residence into the hallway at gunpoint while HUPD searched inside for a possible threat.
HUPD spokesperson Steven Catalano said later in an interview that officers searched the dorm with “negative results for an individual with a firearm or any persons acting in a suspicious manner.”
“Things like that typically don’t end well for people who look like us,” Jarah Cotton, one of the students in the dorm, told ABC News. “We thought we were going to die.”
The other seniors were Jazmin Dunlap, David Madzivanyika, and Alexandra René, according to The Jasmine Brand. The students awoke to banging on the door early Monday (Apr. 3) morning from at least five officers who raided the space.
“We’re walking out, everybody’s like barefoot and pajamas, you know, frazzled,” said Cotton, ABC News reports. “As Black students, we’ve all been taught that you do not argue with the police.”
She continued, “And we’re walking out with our hands up … we still don’t know what’s going on. So all that’s going through my mind is: I haven’t done anything. I’m sure none of my roommates have done anything to warrant this.”
“All I can recall having in my mind is ‘I haven’t done anything.’ I really had no clue why they were raiding our suite. It was a very crazy experience — and terrifying,” Cotten reportedly told the Harvard Crimson (the student newspaper of the university),
After the raid, Cotton said an officer explained that a false 911 call led HUPD to believe there was an active threat in the building.
“I saw them in riot gear and like, they had their assault rifles and all that kind of stuff,” Cotton told ABC News.
“We were all extremely scared, particularly because my roommates and I are Black students who have been bombarded our whole lives with stories and images portraying how situations such as this had ended up terribly. We felt our lives were in danger. We are traumatized,” said Cotten in an email to the student newspaper.
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