Apology to Washington U Black Students

July 20, 2018

Officials of Clayton, Mo., issued a statement Thursday apologizing for how the city's police department treated 10 black freshmen at Washington University in St. Louis. Authorities, without evidence, suspected the students of leaving a restaurant without paying. Mark S. Wrighton, chancellor of the university, arranged for meetings this week between some of the students and city officials. Students said that they felt humiliated and targeted because of their race. In a statement, Wrighton said, "I do not know, in my lifetime, if I will see a day when young African-Americans aren’t counseled by their parents to be cautious of the police out of fear that something could go wrong. However, I am hopeful that by speaking up and speaking out and committing ourselves to change -- on our campuses, in Clayton and in the surrounding St. Louis region -- we can make progress toward that day."

Craig Owens, the city manager for Clayton, issued a statement as well. "In hindsight, it is clear to us that we mishandled the interaction with these 10 Washington University students and lacked sensitivity about their everyday reality because of how racial bias affects their lives. For that, on behalf of the City of Clayton, we sincerely apologize. Our police department has a duty to protect the businesses and citizens of Clayton, including the Washington University students who reside here. We intend to honor that duty. We understand, however, that what is at question is how we go about doing that. On July 7, with these 10 students, we did not carry out our duty in a way that demonstrates we act without bias."

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