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HBCU Winston-Salem State University responds to video of Black student being arrested in classroom

By Joe Sutton and Amanda Jackson, CNN

Winston-Salem State University, a historically Black institution in North Carolina, has addressed the use of law enforcement on its campus amid the online spread of a video that shows a Black student being arrested in a classroom after an apparent dispute with a professor.

The incident Wednesday began with what “appears to be a disagreement over a class assignment,” Haley Gingles, university spokesperson, told CNN.

In the video, two police officers — one Black and one White, according to the student who recorded it — can be seen handcuffing the student as other students express shock at what is happening and others also film it.

The student and the professor have not been named by Winston-Salem State, which is an HBCU, shorthand for historically Black colleges and universities. The professor’s race was not immediately known.

The incident comes as a national spotlight remains trained on the interaction of law enforcement with people of color.

“We understand that the weaponization of police is a prevalent problem in our community; however, that is not what happened in this incident,” university’s chancellor Elwood Robinson wrote in an open letter. “We know this situation has caused a great deal of trauma to those involved and our campus community at large, but please know that every available resource is being extended to bring a resolution.”

The student being handcuffed can be seen in the video crying and shouting at the professor, “I hate you, I hate you. I swear to God, I hate you.” The student continues, saying, “You’re the worst teacher ever. You get me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize? Because I won’t apologize, you started yelling at me. You tried to embarrass me about my paper.”

The student was arrested by university police and charged with disorderly conduct, Gingles said. CNN has reached out to university police.

Police were not called by the professor in the video but by another faculty member “only after their de-escalation efforts failed,” Gingles said.

Student says dispute makes them feel unsafe

The disagreement stemmed from a paper submitted for grading, with the exchange unfolding as the professor and the student raised their voices at different times, the student who recorded the interaction told CNN.

There were no physical threats, and the student involved in the dispute and the professor were in different parts of the classroom, according to the student who filmed the interaction.

At one point, the fire alarm went off, and everyone made their way into the hallway before returning to the classroom, the recording student said, noting the alarm was being tested.

After that, an officer arrived at the classroom, and the professor asked for the student involved in the dispute student to be removed, the student who recorded the event said.

A Black officer tried to de-escalate the situation, and the professor and officer went out of the classroom, the student who made the video said. Later, a White officer showed up at the classroom, followed by an exchange over the student apologizing.

Eventually, the student involved in the dispute was removed from the classroom in handcuffs, as seen in video, students in the class said.

The class marked the final exam day with that professor, the student who recorded the video said, adding school officials have not reached out to them and the altercation makes them feel unsafe about the coming semester.

Meanwhile, “the professor is very emotional and shaken by all of this,” said Gingles, the university spokesperson. “There have been several threats to her safety, which of course are cause for alarm.”

Disciplinary actions against the student involved in the dispute “will be under review at a later time,” Gingles said.

“We know you want immediate answers,” Robinson said in his letter. “However, the speed of our processes does not match the speed of social media. Ultimately, we are committed to ensuring due diligence and fairness. We do ask for your patience as we must take the necessary time to ensure the safety of everyone involved.”

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CNN’s Sara Smart contributed to this report.

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