Police brutality: Black professors are fair game, too

MSR Editorial








By Luke Tripp
Guest Commentator


How could a minor jaywalking incident escalate into contentious police brutality vs. an assault felony case? The answer is simple. In the United States, the slightest encounter between Black people and White police officers can easily explode into a serious conflict.

ASU Professor Ersula Ore
ASU Professor Ersula Ore

This is what happened when Arizona State University (ASU) police officer Stewart Ferrin stopped ASU professor Ersula Ore, demanded to see her ID, and when she did not immediately comply, he proceeded to handcuff her while slamming her to the ground. Consequently, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has press criminal charges against Dr. Ore of “assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer, and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare.”

Arizona State University released a statement saying the officers’ actions were justified. Ore’s lawyer, Alane Roby, said the professor was acting in self-defense. This case reminds me of Harvard Professor Henry Louis Gates’ encounter with police officers in his own home when he was treated as a suspected home intruder.

And I will mention my own racial profiling case, in which I was stopped on the sidewalk while walking from my office on campus at St. Cloud State University to my home because a city police officer suspected the bag I was carrying was some woman’s stolen handbag. The general public has the mistaken belief that the police tend to target only young Black and Latino men who look like the stereotypical thug. Nothing can be further from social reality.

Audio and Video of incident between Ore and ASU officers (video starts at 2:15)

The criminal “justice” system in America operates in an anti-Black culture, in which all Black people are linked to crime and viewed as an existential internal threat to the security and wellbeing of American society. American police departments are control mechanisms that use coercion to make people comply with the laws. But they enforce the laws in a racially biased way. The degree to which they enforce them varies according to one’s racial characteristics, with the strictest enforcement on Black people.

The Arizona case is another barometer of the intense, historic, and pervasive antagonism of the police departments towards Black people. The most dehumanizing and racist system in America is the criminal “justice” system. By design it is a major tool of Black oppression in 21st century America, which continues to have a devastating effect on the Black community through its strategy of mass Black incarceration.


Dr. Luke Tripp is interim chair and professor of Department of Ethnic and Women’s Studies at St. Cloud State University. He welcomes reader responses to lstripp@stcloudstate.edu

One Comment on “Police brutality: Black professors are fair game, too”

  1. I guess you’re not too happy that she pleaded guilty to aggravated assault.

    I really don’t believe this was racially motivated at all. You seem to paint the officer a racist without analyzing the situation or the officer himself. Your reaction is based only on a snippet of the video without any knowledge of the occurrence before the incident. The officer gave her ample warning and told her exactly what he was going to do if she didn’t comply. He even told her to “get back on the sidewalk” when he saw her jaywalked. She didn’t and proceeded to be uncooperative.

    I understand the need to address the issue of cops prejudice on minorities, but there are also cases minority cops sharing the same prejudices on minorities themselves.

    I don’t believe the “criminal justice” system is the largest oppression of black people. I believe it’s a greater systemic issue than that. Opportunities, education, corporation, etc. all have a hand in oppression. I also believe that there needs to be more vocal leadership in the black community addressing what the black community can do for themselves to lift themselves up.

    Change must first come from within. Not going to change unless people come up with steps/actions that need to be done to create change.

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