Barnard College said six security officers are on paid leave while under investigation over a video that shows them pushing a Black student against a countertop for not showing his ID card, the Columbia Spectator reported Friday night.
Columbia University and Barnard are partner institutions. After 11 p.m., students are required to show their ID card to enter the Barnard campus. Alexander McNab, the Columbia student in the video, told the student newspaper that he was frustrated that security officers have a double standard. They often allow White students to enter Barnard’s main gate without showing ID but demand identification from students of color.
On Thursday night, when McNab refused to show his ID at the gate the security officers followed him into the Milstein Center. Two of the officers pinned him down to the counter at a Peet’s Coffee, after which he handed them his ID.
“I didn’t violate anybody. Get your hands off of me,” McNab says to the security officers.
After looking at McNab’s ID card, one of the officers responds, “Let’s walk outside.”
The student told the newspaper that he feared going outside with the officers and wanted to stay inside the building where there were witnesses.
Instead of examining his ID and allowing him to go, the officers confiscated McNab’s card, saying they needed to verify that he was an “active” Columbia student.
“For context: Columbia students have access to Barnard libraries. After 11 p.m., students are supposed to show their IDs to public safety before entering campus. But this rule is loosely enforced and hardly followed. I have always just nodded to the officer. Nothing like this,” Andrew Wang, who identified himself as a Columbia student, wrote in his tweet below that includes a video of the incident.
The video ignited a student protest on campus.
“We are taking this very seriously and look forward to further engaging the community on this topic. Barnard values inclusivity and is committed to ensuring a safe, respectful, and welcoming place for each and every member of our community, regardless of race, religion, ethnicity, gender identity or expression, sexual orientation, or national origin,” Barnard said in a statement announcing that the officers were on leave and it’s hiring an independent investigator.