Lolade Siyonbola, the Yale University graduate student whose classmate called the police on her last week for napping in the common area of their dorm, said Monday that she wants to see consequences for people who call 911 with a racially motivated bias.
Sarah Braasch, a graduate student in the philosophy department who is white, called the police on Siyonbola, who is black, on May 7. “I have every right to call the police. You cannot sleep in that room,” Braasch said in a video taken by Siyonbola as they waited for officers to arrive.
“I was like, you have got to be kidding me. This has to be a joke,” Siyonbola said Monday on Good Morning America.
“I posted the video just for my safety,” she said. “I have always said to myself since Sandra Bland was killed — I said to myself, if I ever have an encounter with police, I’ll film myself.”
The incident was the latest example of the police being called on a person of color for seemingly no reason. Last month, two Native American teens were removed from a tour at Colorado State University after a mother on the tour became “nervous” and called police. In Philadelphia, two black men were arrested while waiting for a friend at Starbucks.
“Someone who uses the police in the way that Sarah used the police should be held accountable,” Siyonbola told Good Morning America. “There needs to be punitive measures for people who, you know, act out of racially motivated bias.”
“None of this is really new. None of it is shocking. Every day someone is treated with racial bias,” she said. “Every day, people are being approached by the police, receiving ridiculous treatment from the police.”
In a statement on Thursday, Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins said Siyonbola “had every right to be there.” Kimberly Goff-Crews, vice president for student life at Yale, said she was “deeply troubled” by this incident and others that “underscore that we have work to do to make Yale not only excellent but also inclusive.”
“Grateful for all the love, kind words and prayers, your support has been overwhelming,” Siyonbola wrote in a Facebook post on Tuesday. “Black Yale community is beyond incredible and is taking good care of me. I know this incident is a drop in the bucket of trauma Black folk have endured since Day 1 America, and you all have stories.”
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