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Campus Safety Officials Suspended After Pinning Black Columbia Student Down in Viral Video


An African-American Columbia University student was pinned down by campus safety officials after attempting to enter a library on campus–sparking accusations of racial profiling and uneven enforcement of school rules.

According to the Columbia Spectator, Barnard Public Safety officers pinned senior Alexander McNab against a table after he attempted to enter the Milstein Center for Teaching and Learning without flashing his Columbia identification card on Thursday night.

Multiple videos of the incident show two public safety officers at first trying to usher McNab out of the building before putting their hands on his body and pressing him against the counter at a coffee shop.

The above video cuts in once McNab was already restrained by five officials.

McNab defiantly protests:

You have no reason–you have no right to touch me. Take your hands off me. You better take your hands off me. You better take your hands off me! Take your hands off me! Take your body off me! I did not touch anybody! I didn’t violate anybody. get your hands off of me. Why are you touching me? Take your hands off of me.

During the ensuing struggle, McNab eventually provides his identification to the public safety officials.

“Let me show you my ID,” McNab says. “You want to see my ID? I am a Columbia University student. You see this? That’s me. That’s the third time Barnard Public Safety has chased me down and you put your hands on me. I didn’t touch any of you. You should be ashamed of yourselves.”

The officials then attempt to escort McNab out of the building but he declines and stands his ground–noting that he’s a student, that they’ve seen his identification and insisting that everything’s been sorted out.

The officials disagree and refuse to return McNab’s identification when asked–assert that they need to check whether he’s an “active student” or not. McNab then tells bystanders that “this is ridiculous” before apologizing about the incident.

“Don’t be sorry,” an off-camera voice counsels the aggrieved student.

By the end of the incident, at least six officers surround McNab.

McNab told the Spectator that he was aware of the university’s policy on showing ID, but said that he was frustrated “with what he cited as inconsistent enforcement of the rule, as he had noticed that white students were often not asked.”

McNab also elaborated on his previous encounters with campus officials.

Per that report:

McNab claimed that the first time, Public Safety requested his ID as he was leaving the building, and the second time, he was drinking water at the water fountain barefoot during rehearsal and Public Safety wanted to verify that he was not a homeless man.

Barnard College issued a statement in response after video of the incident went viral on Friday night.

“The College is hiring an independent investigator to review what transpired Thursday night and to provide us with recommendations for further action,” the university noted. “The public safety officers involved, as well as the public safety supervisor, have been placed on administrative leave pending the outcome of this investigation.”

Note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly identified the public safety officials as cops and police officers.

[Image via screengrab/Andrew Wang/Twitter]

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