Washington University is asking the city of Clayton to apologize to 10 incoming freshmen, all of whom are black, for falsely accusing them of leaving an IHOP without paying. https://t.co/AxaqgX7pN9 pic.twitter.com/rQlNMF7oRF— STL Public Radio (@stlpublicradio) July 16, 2018
Ten black incoming freshmen at the Washington University were accused of dining and dashing by Clayton police.
According to university officials, the 10 students were walking to a MetroLink stop after dinner at a local IHOP restaurant when the police stopped them and accused them of leaving the restaurant without paying.
Even though several of the students had receipts to prove that they had paid for their meal, the police made them walk all the way back to the restaurant with six squad cars following them.
The authorities had gotten a call from the restaurant about a group of people leaving the restaurant without paying but they had no reason to suspect the particular group from the Washington University except that they were black. It was blatant racial profiling and university officials demand the cops apologize for the humiliation caused to the students.
“We are deeply concerned and disappointed that anyone — certainly any of our students — would experience what transpired,” said Jill Friedman, vice chancellor for public affairs. “The fact that these 10 students, all of whom are African-American, were scared and humiliated is unacceptable to us. We have shared that sentiment directly with the City of Clayton and have had an opportunity to meet with city leaders to reiterate our concerns. Conversations continue, and we are hopeful that our students will hear directly from the City of Clayton with both an explanation and an apology.”
To get a better idea of what happened Rob Wild, associate vice chancellor for student transition and engagement and Nicole Gore, an assistant dean and director of the summer program, met with the students.
“Early Sunday morning (July 8), around 12:30 a.m., as they were walking south along Brentwood Boulevard from the IHOP on Clayton Road to the Galleria MetroLink station, they were confronted by two Clayton police officers driving separate vehicles,” Wild wrote in an email. “They were told they were suspects in a crime that just occurred at IHOP where a group of customers left without paying their bill.”
“Several of the students produced receipts to show that they had paid. However, our students were still forcefully told that they were suspects and had to walk the three blocks back along Brentwood Boulevard, with now six police cars in tow to make sure they complied — a humiliating experience. When they arrived at the restaurant, the manager quickly confirmed they were not suspects. The officers dismissed them without any apology,” he added.
According to Clayton Police Chief Kevin R. Murphy an internal investigation is on-going regarding the incident.
“Certainly, I’m sorry they were inconvenienced and anxious about what happened. That was not our intent,” Murphy said. However, he maintained the officers were responding to a call and were “duty bound.” He also disputed six squad cars followed the students.
The police chief met with university officials and is likely to meet the students affected in the incident.
The students were on campus as part of the summer program which prepares students for university life.
Freidman said it had to take a lot of convincing to assure the students, shaken from the incident, that the Washington school was the right institution for them.
“They were recruited from all over the United States and, as high-school students, worked tremendously hard with an eye toward attending an institution like ours,” Friedman said in her statement. “We, and many of our peer institutions, competed head-to-head to recruit them. The community in which they would learn, live, socialize and engage was a very important factor in deciding which school they would attend. We won their confidence and they chose to join our student body because they believed they would have an exceptional experience at Washington University and here in St. Louis.”
“It is extremely disappointing that they have been so seriously let down, even before the official start of their first semester. Washington University and the City of Clayton, one of the jurisdictions we call home, have a long-standing, positive working relationship. We hope and would expect that a situation like this would be avoided in the future,” she added.
This is not an isolated incident of racial profiling and discrimination involving IHOP.
In March, an IHOP manager in Maine asked a group of black teenagers to pay before dining and later refused to accept the practice was racist.
Thumbnail/ Banner Credits: Reuters