Students Protest After Vague LSUPD Emergency Text

Louisiana State University students staged a demonstration called “Suspect:Vague” to protest the dangerously vague description sent out by the LSUPD’s emergency text system on January 30th.

The emergency text was sent out at 6:38 PM after an armed robbery took place in the parking lot at Kirby Hall.

The text message sent out by the LSUPD emergency alert system read, “Reported armed robbery in the Kirby Smith Hall parking lot. Suspect reported as black male wearing dark hoodie. Police on scene. Use caution in the area.”

It didn’t take long for talk among LSU students to start as many felt the vague description in the text was placing all black males on campus n a very vulnerable position. Even those who may not be wearing dark hoodies as the text suggested.

The frustration the students felt quickly turned to action as a demonstration was organized to take place on February 5th at 2:30 PM in the LSU Quad.

The notice for the demonstration inviting students to attend on the Baton Rouge Organization website said, “The suspect in the crime was identified simply as ‘black male wearing dark hoodie.’ This vague description provokes suspicions of all black males on campus in hoodies, labeling them as suspects and provokes racial profiling.”

They asked that anyone in attendance wear a hoodie and to bring signs saying “SUSPECT:________” Participants were encouraged to add their own vague physical description on their signs in the blank area.

LSU sophomore and demonstration organizer, Zandashe Brown, said “[The text message] is incredibly vague, and dangerously so because every black man on campus in a hoodie [is] considered a suspect. We have people among us that are respectful professors [and] students that should not be lumped together in the same category with criminal.”

“It’s a slippery slope when you get these LSUPD police reports and the only thing to go by is to look out for a black male with a dark hoodie,” said Wesley Davis an LSU international trade and finance junior. “On one hand you think the victim was startled and couldn’t identify him all at once, but on the other hand pegs so many people on campus as suspects and, frankly, that’s unfair,” he continued.

LSUPD’s Captain Cory Lalonde said that the text was “an initial, timely” notification from the university’s emergency text message system, which limits messages sent to 160 characters. His justification for the vague description was aimed towards the victim. He said, “A lot these times the victims involved are the ones that provide us with the information and the description can be vague at first.”

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