Please excuse the length of this post. I didn’t want to cut some of the quotes down any further.
I received a copy of an email that was originally sent to those on lists for Students for a Democratic Society and the Whites Confronting Priviledge and Racism both groups at WWU. The author is trying to garner support for what he deems a case of racial profiling which happened at a Feb ’07 WWU career day.
Many of the students had contentious conversations with military recruiters. Though there were numerous students engaged in the same type of activity, Karim Ahmath, the only student of color who engaged in this act of civic participation was targeted by University and Bellingham police.
None of the white students have faced any legal or disciplinary actions.
This is a clear case of racial profiling.
Mayday Party in the Bellingham District Court!
PLEASE FORWARD THIS EMAIL WIDELY!
Wow! A clear case of racial profiling. That is if you only read this email, but I once read this catchy line about dissecting racism so I thought I would dissect this incident as best I could from online information which curiously is from the same person who sent the email out.
Some of us were also engaged in verbal disagreements with the recruiters. One of us was even engaged in a shouting match with one of the Navy recruiters. But, the recruiters did not request police intervention for any of the rest of us. As you may have guessed, everyone of us, except Karim, is white.
Things are sounding bad, but let’s continue with the dissection.
“I don’t want to see more young people joining the Army, just to be sent to kill innocent Iraqi children.” As he said this, he took a step forward, decreasing the distance between himself and the officer. Having Karim approximately 1.5-2 from him noticeably bothered the recruiter and he instructed Karim to step back 3 feet. Karim did not move forward or back, and the recruiter told him that Karim was infringing on his personal space. In response, Karim said that because he attended WWU he had just as much right to the area as the recruiter. He then suggested to the recruiter that if the close quarters were uncomfortable, the recruiter could make a decision to stand behind the Army table.
Both recruiters proceeded to stand in military style in front of their information table, looking straight ahead, not engaging with us.
Hmmm… That sounds pretty disrespectful and moving towards the recruiter during an argument sounds a bit like physical intimidation. I am glad that our military recruiters showed the remarkable restraint they did.
At this time, I saw two University police officers approaching. They asked Karim to sit in a chair in a corner, to which he replied that he did not want to. They then asked for his identification. “No, why do you need my I.D?” said Karim
Then a third officer arrived, although she was not in uniform, but was wearing a jacket that read Bellingham Police on it. This officer got Karim’s attention and explained, “All we need is for you to give us your name, and you will be free to go. We just need your name so that we know who you are, and if you come back here today, you will be trespassing.” Karim gave the police his full name, but then the Bellingham Police officer said they needed his I.D. as well. This frustrated Karim, and he yelled at them. Upon being yelled at, the Bellingham Police officer said, “Ok. That’s it. Get him out of here.”
Officer Satter put her hands on Karim, seeming like she was trying to push him in the direction of the door. Karim backed up and told Officer Satter to take her hands off of him. He repeated that he wanted her to take her hands off him, but they put one hand behind his back and led him outside of the Multipurpose Room.
I’m kind of through dissecting things and it’s tough for a non-racist guy like me to see why anyone but a racist would see color in this incident. Oh, I forgot this,
MONDAY March 19: Anti-War March organized by Whatcom Peace & Justice
Center, Western Against War, and Students for a Democratic Society….
Speakers include Vietnam Veteran James Gillies, Immigration Justice Advocate
Rosalinda Guillen, and Students for a Democratic Society leader Karim
The victim of this racist incident is also in a leadership role. Getting back to the dissection I see that the Anti-racist writer sees the incident as :
everyone of us, except Karim, is white.
only student of color who engaged in this act of civic participation was targeted
None of the white students have faced any legal or disciplinary actions
This is a clear case of racial profiling
What I see is:
physically intimidating behavior
failure to cooperate with university officials
yelling at and failing to cooperate with police
It amazes me that the anti-racist sees so much color in an incident with no color involved. He didn’t get arrested for being the only non-white handing out leaflets and arguing with recruiters. He got arrested for being disruptive, intimidating and not cooperating with authorities.
My advice is that groups such as Students for a Democratic Society and the Whites Confronting Priviledge and Racism should get new leadership if they ever want to be listened to seriouly on the subject of racism. Crying wolf over incidents like this will only get the towns people to ignor them when racism really rears its ugly head.