Published: Tue, April 17, 2018
Worldwide | By Isabel Fisher

Harvard president calls beating of Black student "profoundly disturbing"

Harvard president calls beating of Black student

CPD officers arrested the undergraduate Friday after responding to several calls about the student, who was standing naked at the corner of Massachusetts Avenue and Waterhouse Street. His friends told the police that he had taken drugs, with a local CBS stationreporting that the drugs likely were hallucinogens.

The footage appears to show several police officers standing in circle around Ohene. Most of the concern is not about police intervening with the student but how they did so - video shows the student being punched after he was detained.

"The video speaks for itself", the lawyers said. "You have to judge their actions within the context of a rapidly evolving situation and not within an ideal construct". McGovern also said "Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter, but it must be true in practice as well".

Asked if officers hit the man while he was on the ground, he responded, "The officers are trained to use the least amount of force necessary". When that did not work, officers used a baton to move Ohene's hands behind his back. "When confrontations can not be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are proving the highest level of safety for all".

Cambridge Police Commissioner Branville Bard said on Monday that the officers made multiple attempts to calm down Ohene and that the mathematics student had his fists clenched when he approached the officers before the takedown. "What is shown on the video is disturbing".

"Each incident our officers are involved in presents an opportunity for evaluation and determination on what alternatives can be done in the future for the most optimal outcome", reads a joint statement issued by the City Manager and Police Commissioner, who promise to examine officer protocol moving forward.

A naked Harvard student was arrested for disorderly conduct Friday.

Bard explained that after Ohene was brought down, he "contorted his body" in a way that pinned his arms beneath his body, thus making it impossible for the officers to handcuff him.


He was handcuffed, shackled, and arrested on charges of indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on ambulance personnel.

Ohene's lawyers said in a statement that the incident "continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family".

"Once on the ground, the male continued to resist arrest", Bard said. The commissioner said "it's a very hard thing to do" to "constrain an individual against their will".

"A naked, unarmed Black man stood still on the median at the center of Massachusetts Avenue across from Harvard-Epworth United Methodist Church", the group's statement said. A fourth officer helps restrain Ohene, and one of the officers can be seen striking Ohene. The officers held him to the ground until paramedics arrived, placed him on a stretcher, and put him in the ambulance.

Bard Jr. has defended the officers actions while Harvard University President Drew Faust called the incident "profoundly disturbing" and Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern has expressed similar concerns. A pool of blood remained on the pavement as the ambulance departed. "Shortly thereafter, firefighters came and cleaned up the blood with bleach and water".

As a police department, our officers are rightfully required to uphold the high standards expected from the community, city leadership and police leadership.

"We must learn from this incident and always strive to do better, but I want to be clear: my colleagues and I take these matters seriously, and will follow this closely to ensure that all the facts are properly investigated and that the public is informed of any and all developments", McGovern said.

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