On Friday, April 13, Selorm Ohene, a 21-year-old Black student at Harvard was brutally attacked by police and arrested. Reportedly, three Cambridge officers and an MBTA Transit Police officer responded to call around 9 p.m. in response to “a call from a woman who stated a male had thrown his clothes in her face” and six other reports of a “completely naked” man. According to The Boston Globe, “Ohene was naked and a woman who appeared to be Ohene’s acquaintance told officers he may have been on drugs, the report stated.”
The officers are surrounding Ohene, who is standing on the median of Massachusetts Avenue, and lunge at him. The 21-year-old falls to the ground and begins screaming, “Help me, Jesus! Help me, Jesus!” Officers clearly begin beating Ohene, even after he is controlled. Allegedly, he was punched five times in the torso. Watch the video below:
Ohene was charged with indecent exposure, disorderly conduct, assault, resisting arrest, and assault and battery on ambulance personnel. However, a spokesperson for Mayor McGovern saw the clip on social media and said via a statement, “What is shown on the video is disturbing. When confrontations cannot be averted and include the use of physical force, we must be willing to review our actions to ensure that our police officers are providing the highest level of safety for all.”
The Boston Globe reports City Councilor Sumbul Siddiqui said, “I think when you see the video and you see the officer punch the individual after he’s subdued, you think, ‘What kind of protocol was that?’ ”
The Harvard Black Law Students Association said in a statement, “This victim of police violence happened to be a Harvard student. The University has ample resources that could have, and should have, been mobilized to come to the student’s aid prior to CPD getting involved. Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) were the first to be called for help prior to the arrival of CPD. Instead of sending staff to support the student, HUHS transferred callers to CPD, who then responded as police often do whether cameras are rolling or not — by failing to appropriately respond to the individual needs of the person concerned and resorting to violence unnecessarily and with impunity. By involving CPD, HUHS put this student at great risk of being killed by the police.” They also added, “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.”
Jeremy Warnick, a spokesman for Cambridge police, said in an email to The Boston Globe that the “department is committed to a ‘thorough and complete’ review.”
From Sacramento to Cambridge, police continue to escalate instead of de-escalate.