This article has been revised to reflect the version that appeared in print on Jan. 26.

Amid a national conversation about race and policing, a series of Twitter messages posted Saturday have thrust Yale into the spotlight.

New York Times columnist Charles Blow, one of the country’s leading speakers and writers on race and American identity, said on Twitter Saturday afternoon that his son, Tahj Blow ’16, had been held at gunpoint by Yale Police officers. Blow is an ecology and evolutionary biology major in Saybrook College. He declined request for comment Sunday evening.

“He was let go when they realized he was a college student and not a criminal (he was leaving the library!)” one of Charles Blow’s tweets said. “He’s shaken, but I’m fuming!”

Charles Blow added the hashtags #ICantBreathe and #BlackLivesMatter, rallying cries associated with the grand jury decision not to indict police officer Darren Wilson in the shooting death of Michael Brown in Ferguson and the no-indictment in the case of Eric Garner, who died from a police chokehold in Staten Island, New York.

Blow’s first tweet, which said his son was held at gunpoint because he “fit the description” of a suspect, has been retweeted more than 5,000 times.

Early Monday, a column by Charles Blow published in the New York Times outlined the events of Saturday evening, as relayed to him by his son. Tahj Blow left a campus library Saturday evening and noticed a police officer following him. The officer then raised a gun at Blow and told him to get on the ground, asking where he went to school.

“My son was unarmed, possessed no plunder, obeyed all instructions, answered all questions, did not attempt to flee or resist in any way,” he wrote.

The Yale Police Department is conducting an internal review of the incident, according to Karen Peart, a spokesperson for the University. The incident recounted on Blow’s Twitter page occurred during a search for an intruder suspected of multiple attempts of theft last week in Trumbull College.

Without naming Tahj Blow, Peart said a “Yale College student, who closely matched the description of the suspect, was briefly detained and released by Yale police.” The suspect, described in the police report as a “tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat,” was arrested shortly thereafter in Berkeley College, adjacent to Trumbull. The suspect is currently in police custody.

Peart declined to comment on whether the Yale College student was held at gunpoint. She also declined to provide a physical description of the suspect in custody.

A Yale Security officer, who wished to remain anonymous to protect his identity, said the YPD and Yale Security were strictly informed not to talk about the details of the case.

Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said in a Sunday email to the News that he “does not deny that the student who was stopped was stopped at gunpoint.”

“That is a serious and unsettling issue that is being investigated by the YPD,” he said.

However, Holloway added that Charles Blow’s statement that his son was “accosted” was “deeply inaccurate.” He said the student had matched the description of someone else who was intruding on campus, but that he was not accused of being an intruder on campus.

Charles Blow wrote in his column that Holloway and YPD Chief Ronnell Higgins have apologized.

“But the scars cannot be unmade,” he wrote. “My son will always carry the memory of the day he left his college library and an officer trained a gun on him.”

Trumbull Master Margaret Clark hosted a gathering Sunday evening in the Farr Room of Trumbull College to allow students to discuss the security breach.

“I called the meeting to provide time for Trumbull students to discuss two issues about which I knew there was considerable concern — the intrusions themselves and also an African-American Yale student being stopped in the aftermath by a Yale Police Officer,” Clark told the News after the gathering.

Holloway said he wanted to stress that the administration and the YPD are taking the situation seriously, adding that both parties place the highest priority on campus safety and that they want to make sure every student feels safe on campus.

Holloway said he has full confidence in Higgins and his officers.

“I am not naïve, I know that students have different levels of confidence about how much they fit in at Yale and how the differences in their specific identities have real implications about their lived experiences,” Holloway said. “At the same time, I feel that we have an incredibly professional police force and I have always found the officers very committed to the highest standards of police practice.”

Ryan Wilson ’17, a member of Yale’s Black Men’s Union, said he was upset yet not surprised by the news. He said that often when walking into a residential college at night where the security guards do not recognize him, he is stopped by Yale Security, who ask about his whereabouts and check his Yale ID to verify that he is a student.

“I’ve never seen or heard of it happening to other white students, but for black, Native and Latino students, I hear about it,” he said.

Dara Huggins ’17, an African-American student, has not personally experienced being racially profiled while on campus, but said she anticipates that it will happen eventually. She said Yale students often try to create a clear delineation between the “Yale bubble” and the rest of New Haven, which she added is full of people of color.

Her status as a Yale student will not protect her from being racially profiled, she said.

“Without my ID card, I would probably just be ‘someone from New Haven’ to many students, and probably officers, on this campus,” she said.

David Rico ’16, a Native American student, said he sympathizes with African-American men because he has also had a number of run-ins with the police that he believes were provoked by his race. Last year, he was standing outside his entryway talking on the phone to his parents when police officers demanded to see his student ID, threatening to confiscate it, he said.

“I feel a lot of solidarity with the black community, but I acknowledge that I’m a Native American and that it has a different narrative,” he said. “I do not know the black experience, or what it is to be an African-American in this country. I just know how it feels to be discriminated against by the police. It’s not the same, but it’s similar.”

Even though the conversations raised by the events on Saturday may raise difficult questions, Michael Sierra-Arevalo GRD ’18 — a sociology student whose work concentrates on police, legitimacy and police-community relationships — said he hoped the Yale and New Haven communities would be open-minded and allow both the student and the officer involved to tell their stories.

The biggest issue, according to Sierra-Arevalo, is that the Yale and New Haven communities are “woefully ignorant” of what the police were told when they were looking for the suspect, in terms of who and what they should be looking for. Therefore, he said he thinks it is important not to jump to conclusions about the professional and moral underpinnings of the YPD.

“The only people who in fact know what happened, and that can tell us what happened, are the officers and the student,” he said.

  • eastrock

    If folks did something about the criminality in the black community there would be a lot less police/African American incidents. Everyone is “outraged” when there’s is an incident like this, and they don’t even bother to take into account whether the cop acted properly or not. Where is the outage over the 3 dead and another dozen+!injured by black trigger men this weekend in Chicago? There’s no hashtags or gimmicky t-shirts during NBA warmups, not even a mention. Thousands of black men shot every year in obamas hometown, and nobody cares because it doesn’t advance the anti-white, anti-cop agenda.

    • strtme

      How about you stop shipping weaponry and narcotics into these communities? Another Faux television viewer..

      • qualityrkc

        There are weapons and drugs in every community. Ship them into mine and you will find one safe town that is a heck of a lot of fun on the weekends.

    • cc07

      The “eastrock” username on this comment is enormously unsurprising.

    • Alison Scott

      The intraracial violence statistics are about the same for whites and blacks. Poverty spawns violence, regardless of ethnic group. Nobody is excusing or condoning thug violence. What many also do not condone is thug violence from police officers. They are paid to appropriately police, not act like thugs themselves, regardless of the position they are in. They are trained to deal with every situation and that does not mean pulling their gun out for any minor infraction. They are police officers not vigilantes. In this situation a ” hey sir, would you mind showing me your ID, some students have reported a man the wearing the same jacket and red and white hat behaving suspiciously and we need to check it out”. “Ok, thanks for your time Sir, enjoy the rest of your evening”. No? Pointing a gun at him and “Get on the ground and don’t move” more your flavor of policing? We are talking about someone acting suspiciously. No physical attack. No rape. No homicide. No gun needed. Police overreach. They are no better than bored rent a cops who are dying to play with their service weapons. There are many NGO type organizations in cities like Chicago devoted to reducing violent crime and rebuild communities and help youths not end up in violent gangs. Did you check into them before deciding that no one cares?

      • Nancy Morris

        Why is this comment on interracial violence here? I’m not aware of any claims of interracial violence in this case.

  • Nancy Morris

    If Tahj Blow is tall and was wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat per the intruder’s description when “he was leaving the library,” it seems completely normal for the Yale police to have asked him for some I.D. Otherwise, what’s the point of taking the description of the intruder in the first place?

    What does Charles Blow mean by saying Tahj was “held at gunpoint?” That the officers were armed? Yale PD officers are usually armed. It certainly isn’t general YPD practice to pull guns on young people on campus when asking for their ID. It seems unlikely that the officers actually pointed guns at Tahj when (and if) they asked him for ID, assuming he just showed them his ID. And there’s no reason to think he did anything else. Every Yale student has to show ID to a YPD officer upon request, and it happens from time to time. Has the Yale PD been asked about this point? The story seems rather weird and unlikely on the reports here.

    Pending further information, at this point it seems that Charles Blow needs to spend a lot more time thinking about the practical realities the Yale PD must contend with in protecting Tahj and all students, and a lot less time fuming.

    • berkeleygirl

      In short, your initial assumption is that Charles Blow and/or his son is lying. Were you there? Is it that hard to believe that the cops did not pull our their guns before asking Blow for his ID, even though he was leaving the library?

      • Nancy Morris

        Actually, no. That’s a serious misrepresentation of what I wrote.

      • gdaddo

        It was a single cop. He was black. Since Blow omitted this important detail, it is fair to say that he didn’t give his readers “full information”.

        • Nancy Morris

          Quite right. And there are many other critical facts to be determined in the ongoing internal investigation.

          Charles Blow is a highly questionable source of information in this matter, and commenters who plead that we should accept Charles’ version of the facts ignore his now-known distortions and omissions of critical details (such as the race and number of the officers involved, as you point out) as well as the hedged weasel-language he placed in the column that permits him to escape at will through the back door of putative imperfections in Tahj’s memory and otherwise. Those who rely on Charles’ representations as more than the most tentative version of these events willingly suspend their rational and critical faculties. Those who urge such reliance are fools or charlatans.

    • Midtown East

      Ummm, that’s what columnists do for a living: fume.

      • Nancy Morris

        Agreed. While Charles’ column is reasonable in many key respects, his public grandstanding in the absence of full information is neither reasonable nor constructive.

    • strtme

      What an absolute joke you are, “Nancy Morris”! What Charles Blow, and every other clear thinking, non-repugnicant has been stressing the past few months in particular, is that this ‘fit the description’ issue is what is society’s ill.

      Did Blow’s kid have a black jacket and red and white hat, or will just anyone of ‘them’ do? The officers pulled guns on his son. Is he not allowed to express this? Or is this a case of his son not having rights that a right-winged id such as yourself is bound to respect?

      It’s just too bad that you don’t like the nationwide protests and Blow’s fuming.. O’Reilly’s on Faux tomorrow night… you better catch it..

    • jupiter1991

      According to Tahj, “The officer raised his gun at me, and told me to get on the ground”.

      • Nancy Morris

        Actually, as far as I have heard, that’s according to Tahj … according to Charles. Are there any reports of Tahj’s side of things other than as reported second hand in Charles’ “fuming” and grandstanding Tweets and column? Yes, Dean Holloway has confirmed that Tahj was placed at gunpoint, but the rest of the picture Charles sketches has been confirmed nowhere else to my knowledge.

        • gdaddo

          Blow cautions the reader at the beginning of the account that “this is how my son remembers it”. These weasal words give Blow some cover if it turns out that the YPD did act reasonably or differently from the narrative in the column.

          And apparently Tahj didn’t remember that the police officer was black since this fact is missing from Blow’s story. Or Blow didn’t remember hearing that fact. Or Blow omitted it due to space constraints. Or something.

          • Nancy Morris

            Yes, Charles Blow’s motives in withholding the race of the officer is a point I don’t think is going to go away. There is also the question of why Blow has not supplemented his column (even on line) to plug that gap. Unless he has provided such a supplement, and to my knowledge he has not, he and the New York Times continue to misinform and mislead their readers.

    • cc07
    • alex

      Actually, they did pull a gun on him before asking to see his ID:

      There is no evidence that Tahj was wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat (or even that this was the description the police were operating with; it is simply the description of the man who ended up being arrested).

      • Nancy Morris

        Actually, we DON’T know that. It is perfectly possible the YPD officer first spoke to Tahj and Tahj was distracted or didn’t understand or hear him, leading to a misunderstanding. In fact, part of Charles Blow’s column inadvertently raises that question. We don’t know.

        Charles Blow’s column is actually quite reasonable in some key respects: He agrees that his son matched the description of the reported intruder and that the YPD was justified in asking Tahj for some ID. The difficulty, if there is one, is with the possibility that the officer may have challenged Tahj with a gun before questioning him.

        But even if that is the case, the facts reported so far are far from condemnatory of the YPD. Specifically, Charles’ column recounts that Tahj was not at first focused on the officer, who appears to have been speaking to Tahj before Tahj realized it. That would not be unreasonable or irresponsible on Tahj’s part, but it raises the question of whether the officer may have asked Tahj to stop walking before Tahj realized the officer was speaking to him, possibly giving the officer the impression that Tahj was attempting to evade the officer. We also don’t know if the officer had been told that the suspect for whom he was searching was possibly armed.

        YPD officers do not routinely pull guns on young African American men on the Yale campus, and those who are attempting to insinuate otherwise are just making mischief. This entire incident may well be a perfectly understandable misunderstanding.

        And, then again, it might possibly be something worse. We don’t know.

        In any event, Tahj certainly has my sympathies for a very unpleasant experience.

        • toasttoyou

          Have you ever had someone point a gun at you?

          • Nancy Morris

            Actually, I have.

            But your ad hominem focus is anti-rational and exactly what this conversation does not need.

          • newyork1974

            What “ad hominem focus”? The writer asked a reasonable question, one that any reader, and certainly any contributor here, should consider.

          • Nancy Morris

            As most people use the phrase “ad hominem” in recent times, an ad hominem argument occurs when one attacks the person making an argument rather than the argument itself. It is therefore a special case of the broader category of formal logical fallacies, the non sequitur, in which the conclusion urged, e.g. that the commenter is incorrect, does not follow from the premise asserted, e.g. that the commenter is a dick. Another obvious example: Whether I have ever had someone point a gun at me. Even if the ad hominem attack is true, that fact has no bearing on whether my arguments are sound. Specifically, even if it were true that I had never had a gun pointed at me, that would have no bearing on whether anything I say about Tahj Blow’s difficult experience is sound. Conversely, that I have had a gun pointed at me does not bolster my argument. And similarly with respect to a commenter here one might consider to be a complete dick and his arguments.

            I am not writing here as a witness whose credibility or personal credentials matters. If I were, an ad hominem attack challenging my ethics, credibility or credentials need not be fallacious at all. For example, an attack on Charles Blow’s credibility in this case need not be fallacious to the extent it relates to the truth of the facts as he described them in his Tweets and column. In relating those facts he is serving as a witness and his credibility matters.

            But you don’t have much use for facts, as is indicated by your complete lack of any interest in having them reliably determined before you sound off, so this exception doesn’t matter in your case. Just carry on as you have been doing: Substituting additional quantities of aggression for your obvious want of facts and sound arguments.

    • David desJardins

      What has been reported and what people are upset about is precisely what you say “seems unlikely”. It seems unlikely to you because it doesn’t happen to you. It does happen to other people, and they don’t think it’s unlikely at all. That’s the problem.

      • Nancy Morris

        Actually, no. First, you seem unaware that this article has been repeatedly updated, and some of my comments refer to earlier versions.

        It is certainly correct that what some people are upset about is precisely what I said “seems unlikely,” but it is far from “what has been reported.”

        What has been reported and confirmed is that Tahj was placed at gunpoint. I wrote my first comment before Charles Blow had even published his column, and his earlier tweets don’t even say what he meant by “at gunpoint.” What I meant was unlikely was exactly the image conjured by Charles: Tahj merely emerging from the library and, with no other relevant facts or misunderstandings, being confronted by a drawn pistol and a request for ID. That image has certainly not been confirmed, although it has been reported by Charles in his self-described “fumes.”

        As I have written in my later comments, which you have apparently not bothered to read, is that there are many fact patterns that could justify the officer having treated Tahj the way he did. What was the YPD officer told? Was the officer told that the suspect was “possibly armed?” Did Tahj not understand that the officer had told him to stop (some of Charles’ column suggests that might have been the case), thereby creating the impression that he was trying to evade the officer? There are also unconfirmed reports that the YPD officer is African American, which, if verified, would not exactly be consistent with Charles Blow’s insinuation that this incident was motivated by invidious racism. The people who are upset and “fuming” are the same people who don’t care about the facts. That seems to include you. Do you want it to?

        Rational people are concerned, and waiting for the facts to be ascertained and reported.

  • Clive

    “So here’s what happened in bullet points.
    1) Police get call, look for dangerous armed suspect based on known description by victims
    2) Police spot Tahj Blow who fits the description
    3) Police approach Tahj using standard police technique securing a potential armed suspect
    4) MOST IMPORTANT is Tahj instantly complies, does not fight, run or threaten the officers
    5) Police investigate, determine Tahj has no criminal record and is a student.
    6) Police explain the situation, apologize for the inconvenience and continue on.
    7) Tahj himself post on the Yale blog he himself was not bothered by it and was appreciative the police were professional and that his father is a lot more disturbed by this, than him.

    8) Dad attempts to capitalize on this and grab a few moments of fame via racial outrage.

    • qualityrkc

      Who claimed the suspect was dangerous or armed? My impression was he was a non violent petty thief. Are you telling the truth? And if not, what is your goal here?

      • toasttoyou

        Exactly. We all can understand why Tahj was stopped, but the pointing of a gun and making him lie down are inexcusable.

        • Nancy Morris

          That’s dead wrong. The pointing of a gun requires an excuse, and is anything but inexcusable.

          Suppose solely for the sake of the analysis that the officer had been told by the YPD that the suspect was likely armed and dangerous, that Tajh matched the suspect’s description exactly, the officer called out to Tahj to stop but Tahj was distracted and didn’t hear or understand the officer was giving him a valid order and started moving quickly away.

          Are you saying that such facts would not excuse the officer drawing a gun and making Tajh lie down briefly?

          If so, you need a remedial course in reality.

          And, just to be clear: I am not saying those are the most likely facts. I am saying there are many fact patterns that would excuse this anything-but-inexcusable situation.

          • newyork1974

            Yes, and suppose for the sake of argument that it will be 85 degrees and balmy in New Haven on Tuesday, never mind that there is absolutely zero basis for such a supposition and considerable evidence to the contrary.

            For this writer to say, based on her completely unsupported “suppositions,” that another commenter “need(s) a course in reality” is surreal. Hers is Fox TV “reality.”

            This actually has become quite a common maneuver lately in “smear the victim” propaganda: in Giuliani’s Amadou Diallo and Patrick Dorismond cases, in the London police killing of Jean Charles de Menezes, and in the Canadian RCMP’s circulation of completely bogus information in unattributed backgrounders to trustworthy “journalists” in the smearing of Maher Arar. Unlike the other cases, Arar hadn’t been killed by police; he had been kidnapped by the CIA after false information had been passed to them by the RCMP (Canada’s FBI) and was being tortured at CIA request in Assad’s Syria. So, like the dead victims, he was not available to defend himself.

            What is consistent is the peddling of bogus information, in the “suppose that he ran from police…” category (one of the lies used against de Menezes in London), “information” which is quickly recirculated as fact. It quickly became, “this character should have learned something by now: you don’t run from the police!” (De Menezes had not run from anyone.)

            And “just to be clear,” Nancy Morris is not saying that “those are the most likely facts…” There is no basis for saying that they are facts at all.

          • Nancy Morris

            That facts yet to be determined could have profound effects on how this case should be viewed (enough of an effect that to describe them causes you to virtually foam at the mouth) should make clear to any rational person that it is essential to wait until the material facts have been investigated and reliably determined before expressing heated and possibly vacuous opinions. For example, we now know from reliable sources that the YPD officer in this case is African American, an important fact that clearly and severely undermines the insinuations that have been made by this commenter and others that the officer was motivated by invidious racism. Further, the race of the officer was clearly something Charles Blow could have shared in his inflammatory column, but chose not to, a choice that severely undercuts his credibility.

            It is commenters such as this one who traffick in bogus information and unsupported opinions, and to whom the facts don’t matter. Stay away.

          • DamaLama

            So once again so I am clear on the typical anti-police argument is that you yourself have no facts, but your assumptions are completely true. Someone else doesn’t have all the facts either, but their assumptions since they support police are complete ignorant, fox tvish, and untrue. I am so glad to see you aren’t a hypocrite.

          • Dally Saybrook

            That you find it necessary to treat Nancy’s set of unsettled and perfectly reasonable factual possibilities as essentially impossible when they are anything but that mostly demonstrates how afraid you are that the facts in this case won’t support your biases once those facts are determined. Your dismissive tone and approach (which actually come disturbingly close to hateful and mocking)are of a kind often associated with the worst sexist male dismissal of women’s thinking and insight. Your emotional agitation is obvious and far from becoming.

            We now already know that the officer is African American, an important additional fact. Dean Holloway has stated that the facts, when they are disclosed, will not support any claim that Tahj was accosted. Are you calling the Dean a fool or a charlatan? Be careful.

            Without prejudging the case, so far at least the current of factual verification does not appear to be going in the direction of your prejudices and canned agitprop. You may want to trim your sails.

      • Nancy Morris

        One very important thing is: What was the YPD officer told? Was the officer told that the suspect was “possibly armed?” Did Tahj not understand that the officer had told him to stop, thereby creating the impression that he was trying to evade the officer? There are many possible factual scenarios (and most probable ones) that would leave this incident as nothing but an uncomfortable but good-faith misunderstanding.

        Anyone affecting umbrage on the basis of the facts known by the public at this point Is way out of line.

        • qualityrkc

          Can you admit that you are assuming he was described as dangerous and armed? And can you admit that if that were the case then it would be a false description seeing as the suspect was not accused of violence?

          • Dally Saybrook

            Nancy’s comments here have made no such assumptions at all. In particular, her comments instead repeatedly point out that the actual description of the suspect provided to the YPD officers has not been disclosed to the public, that she doesn’t know what was in it, and she has definitely NOT been “assuming he was described as dangerous and armed.” That the suspect “was not accused of violence” certainly does not rule out the possibility that he might have been described as possibly armed, only that he had not used a weapon. And would you conclude that a burglar you discovered in your own bedroom was not dangerous just because he had not yet used or brandished a gun? How much thought have you given to your comment?

            Contrary to your willful assertions, Nancy’s comments have repeatedly pointed out that such factual issues remain UNSETTLED, that the facts should be INVESTIGATED and commenters should not indulge their own assumptions and biases as you are doing in your own comment. Not only do her comments here not make the assumptions you claim she should “admit” to, but she has instead repeatedly pointed out that the possibilities she has suggested are merely examples of what the actual fact findings might disclose. Indeed, the facts may turn out to include findings that neither she nor any other commenter here – including you – even imagined. That’s one reason why it is important to keep an open mind and not jump to conclusions.

            That you feel the need to resort to extreme and downright malicious distortions of comments you criticize should reveal to you the weakness of your approach.

          • qualityrkc

            Still waiting on these facts. Do you have them? How long should I wait until we can say for certain the officer acted improperly?

          • Dally Saybrook

            Ah, how about waiting as long as it takes for you have the facts necessary to know what you are talking about? You are virtually chomping at the bit to “say for certain the officer acted improperly.” Not “whether” he acted improperly: You make clear that you are not about to let any mere facts stand in your way of that determination.

            Review the mob scene from “Young Frankenstein.” You might as well be cribbing your lines from such a source.

          • qualityrkc

            If you have that information then you should show it. You authoritarians are always making excuses. You don’t pull a gun on someone who you are not even sure is the petty thief you are looking for. This is common sense to everyone without an agenda.

          • Dally Saybrook

            You think someone who tells you it’s a bad idea to shoot off your mouth before you know the material facts is an “authoritarian!” You think that a police officer who has been told a suspect may be armed cannot brandish his gun if he is not “sure” the suspect is or isn’t a killer! hah, hah, hah, hah, hah! So if there’s “only” a 30% chance the cop will DIE then he can’t protect himself, by your thinking. Wow. What a case.

            What you say is “common nonsense” is totally infantile and deranged.

            The question here is which you need more: A baby sitter or a psychiatrist?

    • Ross Freshwater

      According to Tahj’s account, published in the New York Times by his dad, in the seconds following the gun-pulling, the officer stated “Hey, my man. Can you step off to the side?” Is that the kind of language a police officer should use with a student? Particularly after they just pulled a gun on them? That is shoddy police work. Callous, disrespectful, and I’m guessing, if the student had the traditional look of a white prep schooler, not the kind of language the officer would have used (assuming he would have even pulled his gun before hand, which I’m also guessing would be unlikely).

      • td2016

        O, and does the now-verified fact that the officer was African American figure into your thinking?

      • Clive

        You seem to be implying that if the student were white, the officer might say, “Excuse me your royal highness, great majestic.” In your reply, Mr. Blow said his son was confront in the manner of “Hey, my man. Can you step off to the side?”

        First, “hey, my man” I understand that you may have taken connotation from the personal address of “my man”. The word “hey” is quite universal. But you seem to believe that “my man” can only be used for a black male, but you should be reminded that the phrase “my man” is a familiar from one male to another male. Thus, “my man” could be used for any male, not just an African American male. “Can you step off to the side?” In regards to that context, I don’t see any need for analysis besides the fact that the tone is quite colloquial and has no sting of harassment.

        Also I would like to point out that there seems to be a discrepancy between the phrase the officer said by Mr.Blow and this idea that Mr.Blow jr was on the ground (which I don’t know the factual basis of but if that recalling came from Mr.Blow then you should realized that some things are misconstrued. and any further information from Mr. Blow must be taken with a grain of salt.)

        “Is that the kind of language a police officer should use with a student? Particularly after they just pulled a gun on them?”

        You seem to forget that the officer had not yet affirmed Mr. Blow jr’s identity, and there exists no standard to how an officer should address a student. The only standard is clear and concise.

        • Ross Freshwater

          I think any officer, when they have realized they just pulled a gun on a party that is likely innocent, should use the word “sir.” And if they are addressing someone they just released a couple seconds prior, an “excuse me” should come just prior to that “sir.” Manners. Etiquette. “My man” is not acceptable communication from a professional in uniform. Particularly one who just pulled a gun on the person they are talking to. The officer was unconsciously or consciously trying to pave over an intense action he had just engaged in, via words that disregarded the intensity of what he had just done with a younger man. Unprofessional behavior. “My man” is reserved for bars, sports fields, or two equals in an interaction over a more trivial matter. Not following the drawing of a fire arm, by a man in a clearly superior position of power at that moment. If you wield that power, it should be accompanied by respect. The officer provided the opposite.

          • Clive

            Now that you’ve moved away from a racial connotation to an overall issue against police professionalism, resolution can be provided. Based on your recent post, the clear resolution would be to teach this officer “etiquette”, “manners”, and “professionalism” by reprimanding him to attend classes or supplemental training. That’s fine and dandy as long as you realize that this is an acute, individual case and has no bearing on the overall state of Police work. And since you disagree with his professionalism, then you must realize that any extension to call for his resignation or termination is extreme. I want to finish by saying that I do not think the officer in question should be fired because he did not say “excuse me sir.”

          • Ross Freshwater

            I think unconscious racism is at work here. Most human beings harbor it in some form or another. Within American police work, toward African Americans in particular. Do I believe it is highly likely that the officer in this situation behaved as he did because the suspect was black? Yes. I do. Should he be fired for that? I don’t know him or his past record so I can’t answer that. As I said, most people, White, Black, whatever, harbor some racism deep within. It is something we all need to work on. Police in particular, given the tremendous power they wield over a very diverse society. It appears from other comments on this post that, at the very least, Yale PD needs training in this matter.

  • td2016

    Charles Blow does not report that Tahj is “fuming.” I don’t know him personally, but by all accounts Tahj is a pretty down to earth and reasonable guy. Given the spate of break-ins at Trumbull it seems unlikely that Tahj would find merely being asked for some Yale ID by an armed YPD officer off putting or inappropriate.

    Aren’t newspaper columnists paid to fume? Aren’t parents always embarrassing their kids?

    • Hieronymus Machine
      • newyork1974


        • Nancy Morris

          Yes, wow. The NHR readers who more understand the local situation tend to completely disagree with you, while the less informed NYT column readers more agree with your approach. Isn’t that interesting?

          • newyork1974

            Many NYTimes readers, myself included, are quite familiar with Yale and New Haven.

            But apparently you haven’t bothered to read the New Haven Register comments. The most popular one has absolutely nothing about Yale or New Haven (the writer by his/her own account lives in New York City) and the comment is just one long bash-Obama rant. The same applies to many of the others. Here is the lead one; readers can judge for themselves:

            “Seriously. This guy is blowing things out of proportion.

            “Just because he is a Yale student doesn’t mean he isn’t a criminal. I mean, look at the unabomber.. that guy was in Harvard at age 16.

            “When we elected President Obama, weren’t we promised “hope and change”? It seems like his years as president have only torn our nation apart.

            “We now have race riots in our streets. I’ve never seen a country more divided. We all hate each other now.

            “They say a good economy cures all. Many of our citizens have had their jobs taken away along with their health insurance. The middle class is shrinking and its not getting any better.

            “Obama and Co have destroyed everything they’ve tried “to fix”. My health insurance is $450/month, my taxes are closing in on 50% (in NYC), and even my subway pass is now over $100/month (in NYC). Stuff that is still private enterprise is super cheap. Car insurance ($25/month from Insurance Panda), cell phone ($22/month from T Mobile), and gym ($15/month from Planet Fitness).

            “As for this Yale kid, Why do these people always think they get arrested because of their skin color???”

            The commenter doesn’t even pretend to know anything about “the local situation,” nor do a great many of the others, other than having what would be extremely politely described as “very strong racial views,” wherever they live.

          • Nancy Morris

            Yes, indeed. You and the other people who live in New York understand New Haven just as much as the people who live here, just as you say. Those New Yorkers are quite familiar. And by your same reasoning that’s also true of Baltimore. And Boston. And Los Angeles. And Ulan Bator. Sure it is. Why bother having local elections in any city in the world? Refer the local questions to New York, just as you say, and get the job done at lower cost. Should Griffith Park in Los Angeles have a bandshell? Ask the New Yorkers! Once they get done settling New Haven police procedures and putting Yale/New Haven relations on a sound basis, they’ll turn right to it. How could I have missed it? Silly me. Poor Mayor Harp. Here I was thinking that she was doing so well, now you show us she’s superfluous because the New Yorkers are “quite familiar.” Shame, that.

    • newyork1974

      Yale is what should be embarrassed. Charles M. Blow is entirely correct. If this is standard procedure at Yale, all the more so.

      • td2016

        So now it’s down to witless insinuations that “this” (undefined, of course) is “standard procedure” in a reply that is without a single fact or argument regarding the actual events under discussion, one so abstract and contextless it could have been written as an algebraic formula. What farce.

        • newyork1974

          The issue is whether it is standard procedure for a Yale campus police officer to point a gun at somebody who looks like (and in fact is) a student and force him to throw himself face down on the ground, without bothering to ask him for student ID. That is obviously the issue here. If that is standard procedure at Yale, it is deeply embarrassing to the University.

          Unless the Administration wants to claim that the campus is so dangerous that it warrants such police behavior….

          • Nancy Morris

            Far from any “standard procedure” being “the issue” here, no reliable source has even verified the claim that even in this single case that “a Yale campus police officer … point[ed] a gun at somebody who looks like (and in fact is) a student and force[d] him to throw himself face down on the ground, without bothering to ask him for student ID.” We do know that the African AmericanYPD officer in this case at some time pointed a gun at Tahj and told him to lie down. We also know that Tahj matched the description of the presumed actual perpetrator. So if what you say is correct in that regard, the actual presumed perpetrator must also look like (and in fact isn’t) a student.

            The rest of what you write is your overheated supposition, which you reach without benefit of any reliable fact finding at all, but pretend is factual.

            In addition, the issue in this case does not depend on whether the Yale campus is or is not generally dangerous, as you repeatedly, incorrectly and with no basis assert. The issue in this case is whether the facts justified the officer’s drawing his gun, something on which you have a great deal of difficulty focusing. But then focus is generally not the strong suit of people who don’t care about the facts. Such as yourself.

      • Nancy Morris

        Written with the absolute certainty and confidence only found among those who neither know the material facts nor understand the basic issues.

  • Clive

    Narrow-minded students on Overheard at Yale seem to want justice against racial profiling when the suspect’s description that officers were operating under matched Mr. Blow jr’s description. In this instance, officers were well within protocol and were doing their jobs. People who say these officers could have been “trigger happy” are painting a broad brush of thinly veiled predetermination of police mindset and are thus already displaying narrow-mindedness. To call this event an act of racism or racially charged cognition is unwarrented when Mr. Blow jr. matched the suspect’s description; therefore, any remarks on that issue should be null. The officer performed his/her duty and the student responded very responsibly. Everything went fine. If any opponent wants to challenge with the idea that “what if Mr. Blow was shot down”, then we would be entering a discussion of hypotheticals to which I might reply, “What if the officer was shot down?” For the sake of logical discussion, this point must all be nulled. The next point might be that aiming a gun at Mr. Blow jr was unnecessary to which I disagree. Police operated by using standard technique, secured a potential armed suspect, and then the situation explained to Mr. Blow jr after he was not the suspect. At the end of the day, the officer did his/her job, the student did what he was supposed to, and everyone left a necessary but awful situation intact.

    • newyork1974

      Clive, if the Yale campus is such incredibly unsafe place that a cop is right to point a gun at somebody who looks like a student and order him to lie face down on the ground — well, I think I’d want to go to school at Harvard or Princeton or Cornell or Dartmouth or Stanford or Swarthmore or Haverford or Pomona or Amherst or Williams. I can absolutely guarantee you that cops don’t point guns at people on those campuses.

      If, on the other hand, the Yale campus is NOT such an unsafe place, then the cop has done incredible damage to Yale’s reputation. And deservedly so, if this is standard procedure with Yale campus security. The fact that the story lands on the op ed page of the New York Times? Also richly deserved.

      • Danny Green

        Princeton police don’t even carry guns!

        • rick131

          Nor do they at Columbia.

          • Nancy Morris

            But when the Columbia campus police think there is a chance of violence they call in the NYPD. Has that relationship had the best results for Columbia and its students? Is there a bout of amnesia going around? Is somebody here in New Haven silly enough to want the NHPD to have a greater, more direct role in policing the Yale campus when things get sticky? Is there somebody out there who thinks Tahj would have had a better experience if he had dealt with a NHPD officer in this instance?

            Even London Bobbies carry guns now.

          • newyork1974

            No, London Bobbies do not carry guns. This is simply false.
            Nor, by the way, do police in the Republic of Ireland, Norway or New Zealand.

            A special unit of a handful of police in London, not the regular London Bobbies, is equipped with guns and trained to use them. The overwhelming majority of London police have neither guns nor any training in their use. Furthermore, according to the 2012 BBC Magazine article cited above, most London police do not want to carry guns. As the article notes, police who are polled point to the killings of police in the United States (and Paris, we could add), despite being armed.

            When the special armed unit has been deployed, the result has often been disastrous, as in the Jean Charles de Menezes killing. De Menezes, a Brazilian tourist, obviously was not armed, nor was he the terrorist bomber they were looking for. The special armed unit killed him anyway, pumping seven dumdum bullets into him. A few days later, the real accused terrorist the police were looking for was arrested without incident by unarmed Bobbies.

          • td2016

            What total word magic and gobbledygook. “Bobbies” is a general term for London police. The fact is that London admits it needs armed police, and it uses plenty of them. Your arguments are hollow and utterly without substance. You seem to be burning up with some general, internal hate you can barely keep under control, desperately grasping for any verbal trick that will save your ego. Give it up, man.

          • newyork1974

            With all due respect, you really should read something on the subject. You could start with the BBC article referenced above. The London police you see on the street do not carry guns, period. As I noted, there is only a special, small unit that is sent out in extraordinary circumstances where it is believed that the person(s) being sought are armed (obviously a far less frequent occurrence than in this country, but not unheard of). And as noted, when the special unit has been deployed, the result has often been a disaster. as in the Jean Charles de Menezes episode. Which is one of the reasons why there is such opposition, including within police ranks, to an armed police.

          • newyork1974

            Most of the other campuses I mentioned do not have armed police either, even though some of them are located in suburban areas of large cities, such as Swarthmore and Haverford, which both have Philadelphia mass transit train lines making stops right on campus. Campus police there do not have guns, clubs, mace, tasers, or anything of the sort. Haverford town police did come onto campus once at the start of the school year to raid a campus party where under-age drinking was taking place, but that was it, and that incident caused predictable outrage.

          • td2016

            So now we’re down to equating Havaford with New Haven. How many ways can you spell “clueless.” Tell me about athe University of Pennsylvania or just go away. Harvard police are armed.

        • Nancy Morris

          Princeton is located in a low crime, rich exurb.

      • Nancy Morris

        So you “can absolutely guarantee you that cops don’t point guns at people on those campuses” of Harvard, etc? Really? So in the aftermath of the murder of that poor young MIT campus policeman by the Boston Marathon Bombers (who looked like students, and one of them was a student – the one on trial right now for multiple murders), in the heat of the area-wide search, the Harvard University Police didn’t point any guns at anyone? And immediately following the 2009 drug trafficking murder in Harvard’s Kirkland House, a savage killing in which actual Harvard students were involved, no guns were ever drawn by Harvard police even though there was a warm, dead body right there on the floor? And in each case you “absolutely guarantee” it? Harvard’s campus police have occasionally actually shot and killed people (as the saying goes, you can look it up), so they must be very clever indeed to do that without pointing their guns. Why, in two separate incidents over a single month in 2013 two Harvard undergraduates were arrested and charged with assault and battery on Harvard University Police Department officers, assaults with a dangerous weapon, and other charges. But you “absolutely guarantee” that neither of those HUPD victims ever so much as pointed his or her gun to fend off the beating being received, even while being attacked with a dangerous weapon.

        Aren’t you special. Do you mind my asking how you know all that?

      • Clive

        Your first point is irrelevant because you cannot guarantee that cops would not point guns at people on campus. Also you must note that this is Yale campus security and not New Haven police. Under your “assumption”, the fact that these Universities might otherwise employ the local/district police to handle situations such as this and then THEY might point a gun at say a student on Harvard’s campus. Even if I assumed your guarantee were true, it does not mean the same situation could not have unfolded. Thus, the issue of Yale campus security carrying firearms is irrelevant.

        I will agree that the pointing of the firearm should be under investigation, but as you are not a student, you are lacking in the knowledge that other thefts have occurred on campus and in the area recently that did involve firearms. (This issue should be taken into consideration but is not a direct excuse. Also, the suspect was
        stated to be charged with felony burglaries so any issues that this was a “petty theft” is nulled.)

        In terms of Yale’s reputation, this issue that you raise is an aside to overall college campus security and that I am not directly defending Yale’s reputation but would like to discuss about the real subject matter at hand, which is the immediate situation of Mr. Blow jr. at hand, and not some agenda about elite higher education.

        “Richly deserved” sets you up to profit from the defamation of Yale’s reputation, which ultimately indicates an underlying agenda that you may carry. In the future, you should be advised to remove “your bias” and ethos against elite higher education in this conversation. Your agenda takes away from what the conversation needs to be which is the incident involving Mr. Blow jr and
        not at Yale as a whole. If you wish to discuss your agenda, I suggest writing a NYT article that says, “I’m fuming about xxx”.


        • newyork1974


  • woshiwaiguoren

    So, was he wearing a black jacket and red and white hat?

  • 15gladyskravitz

    Where are all the comments that were here?

  • bennyboy62

    @nancy_morris:disqus: I was arrested on campus in 2010 as a Yale student trying to sneak into a senior a Society by YPD officers who pulled their guns on me, handcuffed me until my wrists bled, and did not read me my MIRANDA rights. They then interrogated me for six hours and put me in a holding cell for a day before allowing me to make a phone call. They told my friend that they would smash her face in if she did not co-operate. Our bail was set at $50,000 each. What we were doing was stupid, sophomoric and dumb, but the YPD totally over-reacted; the prosecutor threw the case out of court. So yes, this sort of stuff does happen. And look at the Elevate raid and how the Univ. handled that…

    • Nancy Morris

      Subject to further information I would say your conceit that your experience indicates that “this kind of stuff does happen” is seriously off base. On current reports, Tahj was just coming out of the library, where you appear to have been caught breaking and entering. Your “stuff” and Tajh’s appear to be not of the same material at all.

      If by “trying to sneak into a Senior Society” you mean that you were apprehended during an attempted (or successful) breaking and entering of a building at night – a felony in many states, but I don’t know that detail of Connecticut criminal law – it is not at all surprising that you were arrested at gunpoint, and quite properly so. That you were held in jail for the period you describe and a court set your bail at $50K strongly suggest that you were not just trying to talk your way into that event.

      From what you describe, it seems you were fortunate that the police did not read you your rights and appear to have (deliberately?) held you too long before bringing you before a magistrate, which would require the prosecutor not to pursue the case. Yet you clearly desire to represent the prosecutor’s act as a decision indicating that you had committed no crime, which does not seem justified by the few facts your have adduced.

      On the other hand, you have not disclosed the material details of your experience other than those that are self-serving, so you have rendered it impossible to know anything for sure. I take that as probably a deliberate misrepresentation on your part by omission of material fact. Perhaps if you disclosed more the picture you sketch of yourself might not be so unflattering? Or would it?

      • bennyboy62

        No, the prosecutor declined to press charges when the society in question told police it was part of a game (they had taken some objects from my society, and we were paying them back in kind—stupid in retrospect). We had also told the police this, but they refused to listen to us.

        Sure, we did something that was dumb, and we should have paid a penalty for it (though perhaps it would have been more appropriate to have issued a ticket of some sort, and sent us to ExComm). I still feel embarrassed and ashamed about it.

        But the main issue is the drawing of the weapons. I felt and still feel that drawing their guns was completely inappropriate, because they were actually stopping us in the street outside the society, three to four minutes after we had left (through a back door). They did not know whether or not we had committed a felony. They had just been told by a passerby that we were acting suspiciously.

        I also feel it was inappropriate that they reached for their weapons, despite the fact that we raised our hands, gave ourselves up immediately, and did not resist arrest. You cannot unpull a trigger.

    • breakingbad23

      I’m calling B.S. on this whole story just because of the fact that the YPD had no involvement in the elevate raid whatsoever. Not to mention YPD does not have a holding cell and a bail commissioner sets bail not an officer. By the way, your crime was a felony, hence the drawing of their weapons.

      • bennyboy62

        I’m not saying the whole problem is the YPD. I’m saying look at how the University did nothing for the Elevate raid. I’m saying that, in my case, the charges were ridiculous and bail was excessive. To quote a protest chant: “The Whole Damn System is Guilty As Hell”.

        But by the way the officers were laughing about how they had maced a black guy in the mouth that night after he questioned whether he was being arrested.

        And YPD uses the Rose Center as temporary detention. I should know, having been chained to a table there for a couple of hours.

    • ashketchum

      I don’t mean to detract from your input, but, just to clarify, Elevate was NHPD not YPD

    • Bladderball2

      Back when I was at Yale, drugs were basically legal. If you were smoking a joint in the D’port courtyard and a campus cop walked by, he didn’t notice. If you were outside the gate smoking a joint, the cop would call you an idiot and yell at you to get inside or he’d have to arrest you.

    • DamaLama

      Don’t believe a word of your story. Your wrist bled yet you didn’t photograph it and sue? Your story is done there.

      • bennyboy62

        Dude, who has been successful in suing any police force in New Haven? They’re completely unaccountable. Plus I wasn’t ready to fork out money to a lawyer who said it was unlikely we would win.

  • Juan Diaz

    We need to find out what happened before passing judgement on the Yale Police. I have never heard of a Yale Police Officer pulling out his or her gun on a suspect on campus. The student was a suspect at the time of the incident presumably because he met the description of the intruder the Yale Police was trying to find. Rushing to judgement in a case like this is not in the best interest of anyone and will certainly not help to improve race relations in this country. Charles Blow clearly must know this and should find out what happened first before jumping to conclusions. That is what I would do if it were my son.

    • dzap

      if it were your son, you would not believe the account your son gave you and rather wait for the police to put their spin on it?

      • Juan Diaz

        No, but I would wait to find out more about the situation after all the dust settles. Getting stopped by the police is never fun, and if indeed the Yale Police pointed a gun at him and forced him to the ground, then I would file a complaint with or a lawsuit against the University. This is no way to go after a suspect in a residential college.

      • Nancy Morris

        No parent with any sense fails to understand children lie. It’s a huge disservice to any child for a parent to fail to understand such basics. Trust but verify … by asking the police for their story.

        But this is all irrelevant. Nobody is saying Tahj has lied. Nobody.

        Charles, on the other hand, should be treated with great caution.

        • gdaddo

          I found Blow’s phrasing (“This is how my son remembers it.”) a bit odd. And no where in that “remembering” was the fact that the YPD was African American.

          It sounded to me as if Blow were hedging his bets and not letting any unecessary facts get in the way of a good narrative.

          • Nancy Morris

            Agreed! Absolutely! I had exactly the same impression. But I’m much more concerned that any inaccuracy in that column comes from Charles, not Tahj. The hedge seemed there to give Charles a way out by blaming Tahj’s memory, if necessary. Of course, that was just an impression I had at the time I read the column.

      • td2016

        So let me see if I get this straight. Your son comes home with a speeding ticket for driving 110mph on the freeway. He says he was only doing 65mph and the traffic cop made a mistake or was racially biased or whatever. You choose to believe your son over the speeding ticket? Really? And you don’t even talk to the cop?

        And you think you are doing your son a favor by taking his side, hiring a lawyer and a team of experts to challenge the ticket … all based on his word alone? Are you serious? There’s a difference between being loyal and being a total idiot.

    • Drew Wright

      The problem with this argument — that he matched the description — is that it would seem ridiculous if you applied the same standard and the criminal were white. Imagine if the perpetrator were a tall, WHITE, college-aged man wearing a black jacket and a hat… in the winter. Do you think the YPD would stop (at gunpoint!) every one of the hundreds of Yale students who probably fit that description? I think not. This is not a race-blind issue at all… it just can’t be, given the context.

      • Nancy Morris

        But that’s possibly not at all what the YPD were doing here. As I have pointed out more than once, we do not know the facts and circumstances of Tahj’s initial interaction with the YPD officer. Charles’ column suggests that the officer may have spoken to Tahj before Tahj realized it. We don’t know if the officer motioned or asked Tahj to stop and he just walked off. The idea that the YPD was in general just accosting every tall, young black man at gunpoint is preposterous. Think of what you know of the YPD and what you are saying.

      • Juan Diaz

        If everyone met the description, the police would not be able to stop everyone. In this case, this student was the only one who met the description, and hence it made sense to stop him, but definitely not at gunpoint. Not even the real thief should have been stopped at gunpoint, unless the police suspected he was armed, which appears not to be the case here. Yale needs to find out why the officer pulled his gun, but this incident should not be cast as a racial issue since apparently the officer who pulled the gun was also an African American.

    • Marie

      Wel, since they admitted it, now you have. The fact that you have not heard of something doesn’t mean that it doesn’t happen.

      • Juan Diaz

        True, apparently the police officer drew his gun. I would definitely investigate this, but I do not see it as a race issue, but rather as a how-to-fight-crime-at-Yale issue. The police officer who drew his gun apparently was also an African-American, and hence this cannot be cast as a racial issue at Yale.

        I have not been a student at Yale for quite some time, but when I was at Yale, it was unheard of for a Yale Police Officer to draw a weapon on campus. Quite frankly, it would have been troubelsome for me to deal with this in my residential college.

        Yale needs to find out why the officer in question felt compelled to draw his gun. If crime is so out of control in the residential colleges that Yale Police Officers feel the need to draw their guns, trust me, the issue is crime and not race. All Yalies should be concerned and not just African Americans.

        • Marie

          Yes it can. One of the main problems with racism is the teaching of self- hate. So yes, it can be cast that way although I also agree that there is a general policing issue to be addressed. Nevertheless, until I hear a similar number of stories about similar incidents happening to white Yalies, I will see race as a complicating factor. Even other posts here implicitly acknowledge that the treatment is based on race and say that is both expected and too bad. Can’t have it both ways. Blacks are told on one hand that racism doesn’t exist and on the other that it does exist and it is their fault. This is my last post on this at YDN, and I hope I have added positively to the conversation.

          • Juan Diaz

            Racism exists and even between members of the same race, but I do not believe it played a role in what happened in this particular case. This was a case of mistaken identity and overzealous police action.

            I live in NYC and was once stopped and handcuffed–during the fascist Giuliani era no less–by a police officer who mistook me for someone who had jumped the turnstile ahead of me. Fortunately, another police officer who was inside the subway station had apprenhended the real fare cheater, and I was let go. It was not a pleasant experience for me, but when I saw the person they had apprehended, he looked like me and was wearing similar clothes.

            I do not like jumping to the racism conclusion on this or any other matter. If there is no resemblance between Tahj Blow and the real thief, then I will gladly change my mind on this issue, but until then, I cannot accept that conclusion without evidence that supports it. On these matters, I side with Condi Rice and not Al Sharpton, and I think Charles Blow, as a responsible journalist, should have waited to learn all the facts before writing about this incident in the NYT.

    • Juan Díaz, MC 15

      Because this has been brought to my attention, I feel the need to clarify that this Juan Diaz is not Juan Diaz, Morse ’15. I do not agree with the contents of this comment, and I don’t buy into the race-blindness agenda that this person is trying to push.

      -Juan Diaz, MC ’15

  • Alison Scott

    Nancy. Did you read the article? “Peart declined to comment on whether the Yale College student was held at gunpoint. She also declined to provide a physical description of the suspect in custody.” WHY? “Yale College Dean Jonathan Holloway said in a Sunday email to the News that he “does not deny that the student who was stopped was stopped at gunpoint.” If he wasn’t held at gunpoint and ordered to lie on the ground, then why won’t they comment on it? If the suspect description matched Tahj’s, black jacket, red and white cap, why not say so? The person of interest was walking around the houses pretending to look for someone. So telling someone to lie on the ground at gunpoint was not an over reaction? How about “Hey sir excuse me, sorry to bother you, but someone wearing the same clothes as you is reported to be acting suspiciously and there have been some burglaries lately. Would you mind showing me your student I.D.” No? You think “get on the ground” and pointing a gun at him is?
    You really won’t entertain the possibility that this happens more to young people of colour, than white students?

    • Nancy Morris

      Reading all these suspicions and conclusions into the absence of University comment is childish nonsense.

      You also seem unaware that this article has been updated and that some of my observations relate to earlier versions.

      This matter depends on its facts. Your thinking operates with almost no facts, with only a few given proper weight and significance, and the rest filled in with boilerplate you seem to derive from some imagined larger narrative you carry around with you. I’ll pass. I think everyone should.

      As for your use of the minimal facts you ascribe to here, I will repeat something I already wrote below, but which you perhaps didn’t read. You know almost nothing of the facts of this incident because few have been released. The factual allegations of Charles Blow come from a highly biased source, second hand. Suppose solely for the sake of the analysis that the officer had been told by the YPD that the suspect was likely armed and dangerous, that Tahj matched the suspect’s description exactly, the officer called out to Tahj to stop but Tahj was distracted and didn’t hear or understand the officer was giving him a valid order and started moving quickly away.

      Are you saying that such facts would not excuse the officer drawing a gun and making Tahj lie down briefly? There are unconfirmed reports that Tahj doesn’t think so, just as there are unconfirmed reports that the YPD officer was African American. would any of those possibilities, if verified, change your thinking? Does some larger narrative get in the way? And if any of those possibilities would change your mind, why aren’t you waiting for the facts before fuming?

      And, just to be clear: I am not saying those are the most likely facts. I am saying there are many fact patterns that would excuse this anything-but-inexcusable situation. But the full facts don’t matter to you. You’ve selected the ones you need, and import the rest.

  • Hieronymus Machine

    First: What a no-win situation for YPD. The real perpetrator undoubtedly (as happens not infrequently) was successful in that he blended in, that is, presented as vaguely college-y, maybe even preppy. Backpack? Check. Cell phone? Check.

    So, YPD has an APB that the alleged serial perp is operating in the area (TC being, like, RIGHT NEXT to Sterling) and actively pursues, looking for someone…. well… dressed like a Yalie (with the already noted add’l identifiers). No win.

    That said, I have to agree on at least one count/question: Why was the officer’s gun drawn? One assumes it was drawn out of concern; one assumes that this will fit in with “police protocol.” Not quite #don’t shoot but still a strike.

    But there is unacknowledged irony as well: Mr. Blow the younger is, well, a child of privilege. His father is a well-known NYTimes columnist (undoubtedly a +1 in the admissions game). The scary but ordinary and, indeed, necessary (‘cept for the drawn gun) event is now — because of Mr. Blow the elder’s position — followed ASAP by a YPD “internal investigation” and a mea-culpa from the Dean of Yale College in a naked bit of attempted feather-deruffling.

    The third player: Imagine how… horrified — deeply and maybe even sincerely — is the Yale admin right now. “Oh. My. Dog.”-level horrified. Yale is on the horn to the privileged papa of a privileged son STAT! Can ordinary New Haven residents expect the same? How many Yalies — or their ‘rents — stopped/questioned by YPD have ever rec’d such a “so sorry” call?

    Mr. Blow the younger seems to have handled himself with grace and aplomb; the elder? Well… you decide.

  • Bladderball2

    If he matched the description, the only thing that bothers me here is that they made him go to the ground. Isn’t “hands where I can see them” enough when a cop is pointing a loaded gun at you? As someone who has had a loaded gun pointed at him, I can tell you I would be obeying the cop, and, considering the apparent full and instantaneous cooperation by Tahj Blow, that should have been sufficient.
    The bigger issue is that white men and black women don’t get challenged for ID all over the place and black men do. Considering the fact that I’d rather be confronted by Tahj Blow in an alley than half the population of East Haven, our country has a serious problem.

    • Drew Wright

      The problem with this argument — that he matched the description — is that it would seem ridiculous if you applied the same standard and the criminal were white. Imagine if the perpetrator were a tall, WHITE, college-aged man wearing a black jacket and a hat… in the winter. Do you think the YPD would stop (at gunpoint!) every one of the hundreds of Yale students who probably fit that description? I think not.

      • td2016

        Since you don’t know what the full description provided to the YPD officers even was, this comment is totally premature even on its own terms.

    • td2016

      Does the greatly higher black crime rate figure into your thinking? If not, why not?

  • theantiyale

    To Mr. Blow and His Father:

    Yale Police did the same thing on my graduation night, 1980. Please see my letter to President Giamatti about the matter at
    Paul Keane
    M. Div. ’80

    • DamaLama

      Argeed with BubbaJoe just because a charge was nolle prosequi doesn’t mean you are innocent of anything. These things happen when witnesses suddenly don’t want to come to court, witnesses can’t be found to be summoned to court i.e. graduation and headed home to never return. Police Officers quit, or move to a different location. Your connections ask for favors from the prosecutors. Your lawyer having you complete numerous community service hours, or substance abuse classes before the court date. The list goes on and on, so you trying to imply you are innocent because of that and you bringing it up makes me question you more.

  • Steele

    During my time as an undergrad, YPD stopped me numerous times (4+), once having three YPD vehicles zip in to surround me while walking from the library. None of my non-black friends ever experienced this.

    Yale police chief then, a Mr. Perrotti with total disregard to privacy concerns stigmatized a friend after they splashed his name and picture on campus wide emails, YDN and the internet pretending to be concerned about his welfare.

    Yale administration always looks the other way.

  • Tim Booth

    The world is watching you Yale University. Tahj Blow and his family deserve a public apology, and the police officers should be fired. Do you have the ethic and the courage to do what is right?

    • td2016

      Yes, and what is right is carefully and quietly investigating the facts, circumstances and policies while standing proud against the baying and increasingly mindless mob crying for the lynching of this African American YPD officer without due process. You couldn’t be more right.

      Is that what you intended?

      • truth seeker

        Interesting that you chose to use the word “lynching,” td. Assuming that your moniker stands for Timothy Dwight 2016, I wonder why you don’t have any more empathy for your fellow student. I also wonder if you’d be defending the Yale police department had that gun been pointed at you. Perhaps your father doesn’t have a New York Times column, but I’m betting he’d be pretty angry and vocal nonetheless.

        • Mengles

          Nope he’s not Timothy Dwight.

        • td2016

          Since you asked: I chose to use the word “lynching” specifically as an allusion to the hideous lynch mobs that bayed for the lives of innocent blacks in the past in reference to the politically correct lynch mob now baying for the job, reputation and livelihood of this YPD African American officer, who is to judge from what is known to the public today completely innocent and who acted without any racial animus and in good faith.

          Does that clear it up for you?

  • mryale

    This in combination with the sexual assault story show Yale at its very worst. Don’t even consider what is right, or what fits a world-class institution. Just cover you own posterior.

  • Nancy Morris

    Yes, I saw that, but “intraracial” makes even less sense in the context of this comment, so I took it as a typo for “interacial.” Is what happened to Tahj supposed to be somehow a reflection of intraracial violence or principles or facts relating to it? Is this supposed to be some fancy restatement of the old “poverty causes crime” argument? I cannot see the relevance of this statement, regardless of whether one takes “intraracial” literally or as a typo, except as an unusually broad plastering of boilerplate.

  • 15gladyskravitz

    None of this would have happened if the perpetrator had not been a black male, which is the problem no one in the US seems willing to address.

    • Nancy Morris

      By “this” do you mean a student being placed at gunpoint on the ground supposedly as a result of racial bias? Or does “this” refer to the subsequent fuss?

      You must mean the latter, since the media and the administration have been addressing non-stop the supposed racial biases of the police for many months. Unless one has lived on the moon since Ferguson (at least) it would simply be impossible to say “no one in the US seems willing to address” that issue.

  • Pretty Hips McGee

    So the police are called about a thief breaking into the dorms. The description given to the police fits Tahj. They stop him, he complies, they ascertain that he’s not the one there looking for and they release him. What exactly is the problem?

    • Bennett McIntosh

      The problem is that an officer pointed a loaded gun at him, didn’t inform him why he was stopped, and didn’t try to ID him for far too long. The problem is that the description given matches about one in thirty US adults. The problem is that if the description given were “tall asian male” or “tall white male,” suspects would probably not be stopped at gunpoint. The problem is that if he had happened to be drunk, or angry, or in a hurry, he could have been killed — not for being drunk, or angry, or rushed, but for being those things while being black.

      • DamaLama

        Thank you for showing your ignorance. So according to your intelligent comment, if a white male 6 feet tall, brown hair broke into your child’s dorm room, and robbed your child at campus with a gun, the police should calmly approach every suspect that is on edge of getting caught and ask for id, because as well all know criminals that have committed crimes that are armed are always willing to hand over their ID and speak to police.. Better yet, let’s not even have the Police that are immediately in the area even bother since it’s a vague description of your child’s attacker. Do you even think before you let your police rage out?

      • Nancy Morris

        This description of the actual incident goes far beyond the known facts. You don’t even know what description was provided to the YPD officers, or if that description noted whether the suspect might be armed. And, again, to impute racism as motivating this African American YPD officer as you do is just bizarre.

    • Shana Jerzey Farmer

      He did not have to pull his gun to do that

      • td2016

        You don’t know that.

        • Shana Jerzey Farmer

          And that’s what your sticking with…

          • td2016

            Shana, Tahj is not 16 years old and you have yet provided no factual basis for claiming that this African American YPD officer had no justification for pulling out his gun.

            If you have a factual basis to think Tahj is 16 years old, please state it. If you have a factual basis for concluding that the officer was not justified in pulling out his gun, please describe the verified facts that constitute it. Nobody else has been able to do either of those things. Maybe you can fill the gaps. I’m very interested to see what you have to say.

  • Jim Hopkins

    The actual burglary suspect who was eventually arrested was described in the police report as a “tall, African-American, college-aged student wearing a black jacket and a red and white hat.” Other than the fact he’s black, did Tahj match that description in any other ways? For example, was he wearing a black jacket? A red and white hat (or any hat at all)?

  • rick131

    They stop people all the time who match a description. No big deal. Unfortunately over 90%of crimes in the US are committed by young black males. That is the problem Blow should be addressing. If a young black male didn’t enter and rob people, this would not have happened.

    • Evelyn

      STAY in your racist world please. Would you like if I accused most white men of being pedophiles or them sleeping with their daughters which is incest? SMH

    • daisy09


    • Shana Jerzey Farmer

      Wow… Blame it on the 16 year old but not the haste of the officer…

      • td2016

        There’s that claim that Tahj is 16 years old again. Where does that come from?

        • gdaddo

          She’s misreading ’16 (his class year) as 16 years old.

      • Mengles

        He is not 16 years old. He’s graduating in 2016.

    • td2016

      It’s ridiculous to claim young black men commit 90% (or 89%) of the crimes in the US. They have enough going against them without such nonsense.

      It is true that 93% of black murder victims are killed by blacks, and that blacks murder at a rate almost nine times the white rate, and that blacks commit more than half of all murders. Similar and consistent patterns also obtain with respect to other violent crimes, such as rape. And those statistics come from the Obama/Holder Department of Justice, so anyone who wants to claim that they are emissions from some “racist world” had better be prepared to argue that Obama and Holder live in – and direct – that world.

    • truth seeker

      No big deal to you, Rick — I’m guessing because you’re not stopped regularly by the police because of the color of your skin. It’s always so easy to say “no big deal” about ordeals you don’t yourself experience, isn’t it?

      • td2016

        That’s a bad guess, I’m guessing because it was made in bad faith.

  • Marie

    I don’t know where your 90% stat comes from. The jails are not 90% black men, so it would seem to me to be false. It would also seem to me to be the kind of ignorant statement that people who go to Yale are not expected to make. But then again, maybe I am guilty of “school profiling”.

    • Evelyn

      Statistics. Maybe 89% black will make you feel better. Maybe you’re reading the wrong literature. Black men in prison and on death row because of DNA are being released in record numbers. SMH

      • yalie

        According to, the prison population in the US is about 60% white. So, disproportionately weighted towards people of color, but nothing like the number you just made up.

      • Marie

        Truth and accuracy make me feel the best, thank you.

  • Marie

    And I also want to note, for the umpteenth time, he is a black “man”, not a black “male”. To refer to him as a collection of adjectives is to take his person hood away.

    • Pretty Hips McGee

      I thought I read he was 16 years old?

      • Janice

        His graduation year is 2016 (’16), not his age.

        • Pretty Hips McGee

          Thanks. It’s the first time that I’ve read a college centered paper.

          • Mengles


        • Pretty Hips McGee

          It took a while to figure it out. Sure seemed that college kids were younger these days.

        • Nancy Morris

          Maybe. But that’s what other people say. Why doesn’t Shana Jerzey Farmer explain what SHE meant when she wrote that? She said it was the most important thing, after all.

    • td2016

      In her comment above, Shana Jerzey Farmer says Tahj is a “child,” and that the most important thing about this case is that it all happened to a “child.” But you say that what Shana insists is the most important aspect of this case takes away Tahj’s personhood.

      Care to explain?

  • DamaLama

    This columnist proves that he is just yet another angry race card player. not an educated thought person he wants to portray. The campus is having current issues of robberies, and some of them involving hand guns. The description of the suspect was the exact clothes the kid was wearing. So according to this Blow character, if the police are dealing with a possible violent black suspect they must calmly walk up and say excuse me sir, may I please see some id?

    • Hearns-Jackson-Hagler-Jones

      Police are to cowardly to stop Whites, they only harass Blacks who can’t fight back. A Chem student was attacked for the color of his skin and you approve.

      • DamaLama

        Police are to cowardly to stop whites, but a check of tickets issued and arrest on campus show the VAST majority of “offenders” on campus are….white, way to research your racist comment. A Chem student was stopped because of the color of his skin and the matching description of his clothes. This Chem student was intelligent enough to comply with the officer’s demands, and complain about it afterwards since he did nothing wrong. This Chem student is the example of how to deal with Police, just because you are doing nothing wrong, you don’t know someone matching your clothing committed a crime. You comply and seek out complaints after the encounter is over. This Chem student should be applauded and be the example, he could have argued, ignored the cop, fought the cop, but he didn’t he complied and then went to his father. Again if your loved one was attacked and they could only give a vague description of the offender, you would be okay if the police did nothing to find the person that attacked your loved one, because it was only a vague description and they allowed every possible match walk by?

        • Shana Jerzey Farmer

          That would be true since the vast majority of students at Yale are white… a very skewed statistic… Everyone is quick to argue a point but not address the elephant in the room. This was a kid on a college campus. This not not a regular neighborhood. Where was thus officers taser. He didn’t brandish it, he removed it from the holder. If he simple just asked can I see ID, kept a safe distance than all of this would have been different… poor kid. I would be fuming too.

      • Nancy Morris

        The YPD officer in this case was African American. But you say with certainty and pompous condescension that Tahj “was attacked for the color of his skin.” Have you no shame?

      • theantiyale

        I am white and they abused me.

        Paul Keane
        M. Div. ’80

      • Mengles

        The cop was black.

    • de carr

      Wait… Where in the article did it state what the student was wearing?… How do we know that he was wearing the exact same clothes that the suspect was wearing?… Did I miss that part?

      • td2016

        Even Charles Blow’s column admits his son matched the description of the interloper, which has not been released to my knowledge. Fixating on details of an unknown description is … well, this is a family newspaper, so I can’t use the terms that come to mind. The important thing is that even Charles admits Tahj matched the interloper description.

        • truth seeker

          The column states, in fact, that his son was TOLD he matched the description of the “interloper,” td2016. It does not state that he DID match the description. C- in reading comprehension.

          • Nancy Morris

            Ah, yes, and by the same reasoning, Charles was only TOLD every single fact in that column. He also notes that many of the facts he relays are entirely as Tahj recalls them. So, by your reasoning, Charles doesn’t admit those facts, either. Charles Blow is fully capable of expressing skepticism, and his recounting what he was TOLD without taking any such note constitutes acceptance. You are dancing on the head of a pin.

            And what’s with the scare quotes? Anyone who repeatedly impersonates Yale students, breaks into their rooms and steals their property is an obvious interloper to anyone who understands the word. And your comments above snidely chastising Dean Holloway demonstrate that you have a dictionary and aren’t afraid to use it!

  • Nancy Morris

    Yes, I know that. But it makes even less sense to me in that context.

    What does “The intraracial violence statistics are about the same for whites and blacks” even mean?

    At first I thought he was comparing black-on-black and white-on-white crime rates, and saying they were about the same. But nobody could think that. It’s just too bizarre. Blacks commit over half of all murders in this country, for example, but constitute less than 13% of the population, and 93% of black murder victims are murdered by blacks. There just aren’t enough murders left over for whites to commit murder against other whites (or at all) at anything like the same rate. In fact, blacks murder at a rate about eight times the white rate.

    So what does it mean?

    I figured it for a typo for “interracial.” Since 93% of murdered blacks are killed by blacks, that means 7% of murdered blacks are killed by non-blacks. On the other hand, 17% of murdered whites are killed by non-whites. While 7% and 17% are not my idea of “about the same” (17 is more than twice 7, after all), at least the ratio of absurdity isn’t eight-to-one. Also, one should note that the official statistics muddle the white/Hispanic distinction, which may be correct, since the great majority of Hispanics are white.

  • Shana Jerzey Farmer

    The major issue is a 16 year old child who was a student at Yale was held at gunpoint, not in areas of new haven, but on campus. Anything in that bubbled should be treated different. He did not request ID from a safe distance, he did not pull his taser, no he pulled his gun… due to his haste and lack of sensitivity to his surroundings, as a trained officer, he should be fired. Racial profiling is just the icing on the cake.

    • td2016

      Almost none of the factual assertions in this post have been verified. Tahj is a third year student, so it seems highly unlikely that he is 16 years old and it is certainly of questionable taste to call him a “child.” The YPD officer involved is African American (a fact Charles Blow disgracefully withheld from his readers), and the charges that the officer was motivated by racial animus or engaged in racial profiling are absurd. The Dean of Yale College, Dean Holloway, is a hugely intelligent, sophisticated, good-hearted African American man. The idea that Dean Holloway might be involved in or covering up an anti-black activity is beyond imagination.

      You should definitely wait for the results of the internal investigation.

      • truth seeker

        Why does it matter, td2016, that the police officer is African American? And what is the basis for your assertion that Charles Blow “disgracefully withheld” that information from his readers? Were you privy to his conversation with Tahj? Perhaps instead of implying others shouldn’t jump to conclusions, you should refrain yourself.

        • Nancy Morris

          Your claim that in a case inflamed by accusations of racial profiling and racial bias on the part of the police that the significance of the race of the police officer does not matter at least has novelty on its side.

        • td2016

          Any claim such as the one you implicitly advance here that Tahj didn’t know the race of the YPD officer or did not share it with his father when recounting this experience is ludicrous. And even if that were the case (which it ISN’T), Charles has had lots of opportunity to publish a supplement to his column, but has instead disgracefully continued to withhold that highly material data from his readers.

          That you deem yourself forced to rely on such tendentious, absurd arguments should expose to you how ridiculous your position has become. But I’m not betting on your epiphany.

      • Shana Jerzey Farmer

        I am a Michigan state alum… during football season I seem some extremely crazy riots, mobs of angry multiracial groups of students who were drunk… never in my 3.5 years there do I remember guns being pulled on students. This was way more threatening then a kid walling out of a campus library. And we were in a similar surrounding neighborhood… there is a different sensitivity you should have when dealing with a group of students ranging 16 thru 22… if anyone has been on a large campus u understand what I am saying.

    • Clive

      The student is a junior in college, definitely not a 16 year old child. Your idea that everything in that bubble should be treated different should be reexamined. The Yale campus is very much integrated into the New Haven community and thus to call it a bubble is inappropriate. Because Yale is situated in the heart of downtown New Haven, the greater, overall community becomes an integral part of the campus. In that respect, various members of the community do appear in the central parts of the Yale campus, especially where Mr. Blow jr was because the outside library area is not gated, unlike the residential colleges. Your next concern is that the officer in question did not perform his duty properly “due to haste and lack of sensitivity to his surroundings.” Officers on the job do not afford the luxury of time. People can die in split seconds and adequate judgement must be made. You assume this inadequate judgement is from “lack of sensitivity to his surroundings”, which I addressed earlier in this post.

      • Shana Jerzey Farmer

        So you have never seen a 16 year old as a junior in college… maybe you are limited but one of my best friends graduated prelaw at 18… hmmm

        • MDB73

          ’16 = class of 2016, not 16 years of age.

        • Justine

          The ’16 after his name is his graduation year, not his age…

          • Shana Jerzey Farmer

            Yeah I seriously just noticed that…. either way it’s still unacceptable… thanks for pointing that out to me.

    • Mengles

      Shana, the officer was BLACK. No racial profiling here by the officer.

      • Shana Jerzey Farmer

        That is the line you chose to respond to not the main thing I said in my response… smh

      • Comentator

        Members of groups that are subject to discrimination can still hold prejudices about their own groups, consciously or unconsciously. There is no reason a black police officer couldn’t be a perpetrator of racial profiling.

        • td2016

          You are correct. It’s not impossible, just wildly improbable and totally unsupported by any facts or evidence in this case.

          Thank you for helping to clear that up.

  • theantiyale

    @ DamaLama and BubbaJoe123:

    Here is the transcript and eyewitness report. Even Judge Mancini himself became my unexpected and unsolicited advocate.

  • theantiyale

    Here is the transcript and eyewitness report. Judge Mancini himself became my unexpected and unsolicited advocate.

    • theantiyale

      Why wouldn’t they want to prosecute ?
      I suggested a jury trial and they brushed it aside.
      I think they were avoiding bad publicity.

  • Oot

    waaa police were doing their jobs and some kid was inconvenienced by it. Life goes on.

    • truth seeker

      Somehow, I don’t think you’d be so nonchalant about this had that gun been pointed at you.

      • Nancy Morris

        Empty, fact-free ad hominem nonsense.

      • Dally Saybrook

        Somehow, I don’t think you’d be so nonchalant about the abusive treatment of this African American officer being demanded by these sanctimonious and politically correct critics if charges of your own racial bigotry had been pointed at you by an anonymous crowd (and a grandstanding columnist) demanding your job. And that’s especially so if the crowd screamed that your putative bigotry was directed against a member of your own minority race.

        Have you ever considered emerging from your coccoon, if only for a breath of fresh air now and then?

  • truth seeker

    It is not only this incident that is troubling; the response from Yale in many respects has been unnecessarily defensive, and at times even snide. For instance:

    “Holloway added that Charles Blow’s statement that his son was ‘accosted’ was ‘deeply inaccurate.'”

    The Merriam-Webster definition of “accost” is “to approach and speak to (someone) often in an angry, aggressive, or unwanted way.” How is Charles Blow’s use of this word “deeply inaccurate”? It seems to me to be utterly legitimate and appropriate.

    The Yale Alumni Magazine did not help the situation on Facebook with its supercilious, uber-defensive posture. And even President Salovey’s decision to contrast this incident with Ferguson was a poor one. The first and foremost concern for everyone should be the experience and feelings of the undergraduate who was the victim of an unnecessary overzealous response to a non-violent crime that he had absolutely nothing to do with. The color of the skin of the officer is irrelevant. His reaction was inappropriate and needless.

    This is a terrible reflection on Yale. And if, in fact, its police are prone to draw their guns in situations where that response is wholly unwarranted, then it would behoove Yale officials at every level to refrain from the officious, soulless praise of Yale Police and instead address the situation in an effective and meaningful way.

    • Nancy Morris

      The factual assumptions in this comment go far beyond anything that has been established or verified.

      • truth seeker

        Such as?

        • Nancy Morris

          Your comment completely disregards the importance of the facts. No verified set of the material facts respecting Tahj’s encounter has appeared, and Holloway’s comment that Tahj was not accosted is a clear indication that the facts, which he knows far better than you and have not yet been released, vitiate that accusation. Indeed, Charles’ column already suggests the possibility that the YPD officer may have spoken to Tahj and given him valid orders to halt before Tahj even realized that he was being addressed, causing him to disregard what the officer said and creating the impression that Tahj was evading the police.

          We don’t know, but you don’t care.

          Instead of taking Holloway’s comment for what it is and waiting for the factual determinations of his investigation your comment just barrels along and insinuates that he is either a liar or an ignoramus, complete with snide dictionary lesson. But Dean Holloway is a lot smarter, better educated, better intentioned and more articulate and familiar with what’s in that dictionary than you write.

        • td2016

          “Such as?”

          Where to begin? What facts might come out? We already have notice from Holloway that the facts do not support a charge that Tahj was accosted. But that data point sent you to foaming at the mouth while randomly slinging unsupported charges of prevarication, incompetence and ignorance.

          Such as: What if the factual investigation reveals that Tahj didn’t hear the officer (quietly politely and in a manner completely ruling out any proper use of the word “accosted”) tell him to stop because Tahj was focused on some difficult chemistry problem in his own mind, then remembered he was late for lab and started to sprint towards Science Hill? Even Charles’ column, which you claim to have read so closely although tendentiously, suggests the possibility of something of this nature. Any of that matter to you?

          Another “such as”: What was in the description? The complete description provided to the YPD officers of the suspect for whom they were searching has not been disclosed, although critics of the officer are pretending that they know. Suppose that description included the phrase “suspect is believed to be armed and dangerous.” Would that affect your thinking? What if the description included the phrase “some witnesses to suspect’s prior intrusions believed he may have been carrying a concealed weapon?” I’m not saying either of those were in the description (I haven’t seen it), I’m just giving you an example of unsettled and undisclosed factual questions, “such as” you requested.

          Another “such as”: Suppose the description of the suspect provided to this officer included extensive details regarding every single visible garment the suspect was wearing, and in every single case Tahj happened to be wearing the exact same thing? Would that matter to you? What if the description of the suspect’s clothes fell short of such comprehensiveness, but was more extensive than what has been reported in the media – and Tahj’s matched it? What if Tahj and the suspect are the exact same height and weight and have exactly the same, unusual haircut? Any bearing?

          See anything in Charles’ version that rules any of that out, even assuming the truth and completeness of every word of that dubious source?

          Those are just a few “such as’s.” It’s not hard to think of a whole range of facts that need to be settled before one can consider oneself to understand what happened here. But you say the unsettled facts don’t matter, although almost no fact is settled. You know almost nothing, but deny the significance of your boundless ignorance. In another comment you even go so far as to assert bizarrely that the African American race of the officer does not matter in evaluating the likelihood that he acted with racial animus against another African American.

          Care to explain yourself?

          • Comentator

            No, none of those things really make a difference.
            Even if it were in fact the suspect who had been stopped, I don’t think the officer would have been justified in drawing a gun. Even if the suspect were described as “armed and dangerous” it would have been unjustified. Unless the suspect was actually holding a gun in his hand, it is absolutely wrong for the officer to have drawn a gun.
            Of course, if Blow were in fact a close match for a description of a suspect, it would have been reasonable to cordially ask him to show his ID. But that isn’t what the officer did.
            A gun was drawn when questioning an unarmed person. That is always wrong.
            African American police officers can absolutely be the perpetrators of racial profiling. It is entirely possibly for members of persecuted minorities to hold prejudice, consciously or unconsciously, against their own groups. Some studies, e.g. by the Boston Globe, suggest minority officers may in some circumstances exhibit even greater racial disparities than their white colleagues:

          • td2016

            And increasingly experience suggests that minority New York Times columnists may in some instances exhibit even greater propensities to whip up a lynch mob baying for the destruction of an innocent African American police officer without due process or any serious factual investigation than their white colleagues. Isn’t that interesting?

          • Comentator

            If you think there is some plausible circumstance under which it could have been justified for the officer to have drawn a gun, please explain (a) what that circumstance is and (b) why it would be justified.
            I think everyone wants a factual investigation and due process. That’s a straw man. I’ve explained under what circumstance I think the officer would have been justified (i.e. if Thaj Blow had been openly holding a gun) and why the likelihood of that is vanishingly small. You haven’t actually responded.
            The administration’s statement said, “Even though the officer’s decision to stop and detain the student may have been reasonable, the fact that he drew his weapon during the stop requires a careful review.” Do you disagree?

          • Comentator
    • MikeAT_ACW

      Yo Truth, I find this interesting:

      And if, in fact, its police are prone to draw their guns in situations where that response is wholly unwarranted, then it would behoove

      Please, show us how to judge something “wholly unwarranted”? He matched the description of a felony suspect, the cop was all alone. We don’t know is if the cop was much smaller than the college student Mr. Blow. And I’ve read in more than one article that the suspect was wanted for “robbery”, not “burglary”. Robbers are a bit more likely to fight. So forgive me if this 17 year cop doesn’t take your dribble as anything to be taken serious.

      Was the officer justified is drawing down on him? From what I’ve read, yes. Granted, we may not have enough info for the full story. Remember how many liars came out after Mike Brown assaulted Darren Wilson, saying he was no where near the cop car and was shot “execution style”. And how when faced with forensic evidence (e.g. Mikey’s blood in the car, the gunpowder residue on Brown’s hands. etc) and they were put under oath, they “revised their statements.” So don’t jump to conclusions.

      • Mengles

        The cop was also black himself.

        • newyork1974

          So what?

          Apparently some commenters have not even bothered to read Charles Blow’s column at all. He says the issue was that his son was stopped AT GUN POINT (his emphasis, in his tweet).

          For those who can’t access the Times column, here is the relevant part:

          “Now, don’t get me wrong: If indeed my son matched the description of a suspect, I would have had no problem with him being questioned appropriately. School is his community, his home away from home, and he would have appreciated reasonable efforts to keep it safe. The stop is not the problem; the method of the stop is the problem.

          “Why was a gun drawn first? Why was he not immediately told why he was being detained? Why not ask for ID first?

          “What if my son had panicked under the stress, having never had a gun pointed at him before, and made what the officer considered a “suspicious” movement? Had I come close to losing him? Triggers cannot be unpulled. Bullets cannot be called back.”

          I would hope and expect that most of us would have exactly the same reaction as Mr. Blow

          • Nancy Morris

            So what? Apparently some people here don’t understand that Charles Blow’s column is already known to have omitted important facts including the officer’s race, includes only second-hand recounting complete with disclaimers that they are subject to memory imperfections, reflects nothing of the officer’s side of the story, was written by a man who admitted he was “fuming” at he time and is anything but disinterested, and generally can in no way be considered by any rational person to be correct and complete.

            It’s hard to believe that there are people that silly and/or malicious out there, but there they are. Some of them even write absurd, agitated comments in the YDN demanding action and conviction in the absence of facts.

      • Comentator

        I think it would be “wholly unwarranted” for a police officer to draw a gun unless the person he was attempting to question were openly, visibly holding a drawn gun himself. The likelihood of that having been the case is so small as to be ridiculous.

        • td2016

          That’s such an interesting standard you advance. Let’s see how it would work in practice:

          An officer on street patrol receives a text message including a full color photo of a suspect taken five minutes previously by a bank security camera and a note that the suspect has just robbed a bank around the block from the officer’s current location with a gun that the suspect used to kill 10 people in the bank and then placed under his raincoat before fleeing in the officer’s direction. Just then a man looking exactly like the one in the photo rounds the corner carrying a bulging raincoat in his right hand and a bulging bank-bag in the other.

          Under the standard you advance it would be “wholly unwarranted” for that police officer to draw a gun to question the man who just came around the corner because the man matching the photo and carrying the bulging raincoat is not “openly, visibly holding a drawn gun himself.”

          What is it you think is “so small as to be ridiculous?” Remind me, please.

          Completely contrary to your thinking, whether an officer is justified in drawing his gun and restraining someone during questioning, correctly depends on a balancing of costs (including risks to the safety of the officer) and benefits of the gun display and restraints, in each case as reasonably determined by the officer. You are attempting to substitute some kind of absolutist rules for that balancing, which cannot and should not be done. You are attempting to exclude from these considerations the officer’s own safety and individual being and the workings of his own mind, an attempt that is so pernicious that it borders on being objectively evil.

    • Dally Saybrook

      Dean Hollaway is a distinguished African American scholar. I cannot even imagine anyone addressing a white Dean of Yale College in the condescending terms used in this comment, which goes so far as to lecture Professor Holloway on the use of a dictionary.

      This comment absolutely reeks of anti black bigotry and stereotyping, made all the more offensive by its politically correct veneer. The author of this comment should withdraw it and apologize to the Dean immediately.

    • aaleli

      Put away your thesaurus.

  • Clive

    Sometimes, I love watching people’s argument change just to argue. It’s pretty funny how when this all first happened, everyone was arguing that it was institutionalized racism. Even Mr. Blow’s pulling of the race card. Then more facts came out and the clever people knew that their card failed them so they made it a police brutality issue. With all the amendments and changes to Mr. Blow’s story I can’t help but take his SECOND hand account with a grain of salt. I would love a personal statement from Mr. Blow jr himself. If he’s got any dignity, then he’ll just tell everyone the truth. But if he’s his dad’s puppet, then I’m sorry for him. I’m laughing so hard. #Ican’tbreathe

    • Dally Saybrook

      It’s also revealing how in making that switcheroo to which you refer critics of the YPD and this officer have resorted increasingly to coded appeals to racist and sexist stereotypes, especially coded appeals to the bigoted notion that black men are intrinsically violent and untrustworthy police.

      Orbitting out on some social Möbius strip of their own invention, the politically correct crowd howling for the dismissal of this officer without due process or necessary factual investigation have morphed themselves into a baying lynch mob demanding the skin of an African American officer, who, on all evidence, acted in nothing but good faith and with professionalism in his efforts to assure the safety of students.

  • JJ

    I am black alum who graduated in ’09. Let’s not kid ourselves, there has always been a problem with the way Yale campus is policed. There has also always been a tension about what the campus should look like. Does a young black man have a legitimate reason to be in an entryway? I get it, fear of theft and whatnot. But over-reliance on profiling leads to entire swathes of the student body being unfairly targeted and misses people who look/act suspicious but are white. Case in point: I was flashed by an old white man in the former CCL, presumably because no one thought to check his ID…

    Students are implicitly told to fear black males who aren’t in service uniforms, as if those were the only acceptable black bodies on campus. During my 4 years on campus, I heard countless stories of black students whose classmates were so terrified of black men that they didn’t recognize them on Elm street and mechanically crossed the street when they approached — in broad daylight.

    Until we come to we enter into real dialogue with the community, YPD and NHPD, minority students, but also white students, the tensions will continue to simmer. And students who are at the intersection of being students, but belong to minority backgrounds will continue to face disparate treatment from their peers and the police.

    • td2016

      These are good thoughts, although I don’t agree with some of them. There is a lot of personal and social insight in what you write.

      But I do not construe your intent here as suggesting that anything in your meditation affects the question of whether this particular African American officer was justified in treating Tahj as he did in this case.

      Is that right?

      • JJ

        Racist institutions and racist policies can be carried out by minorities. A horrible, extreme example is of Jews who participated in the Holocaust. These are inconvenient truths that muddy the waters of black vs white. At the end of the day, there is a white power structure that sometimes uses minorities to carry out the dirty work. Are the individual minorities at fault? Of course they are. But it’s disingenuous to leave out the impact of larger policy decisions.
        Also, Yale has done such a piss poor job of addressing racial profiling, and even instances of racial hostility on campus (at least during my time there) that there are few studies, stats or anyone can point to. So yes, you are right, I am writing from a relatively narrow and subjective standpoint. That said, choosing not to measure a problem doesn’t mean it’s not there, and it certainly doesn’t make it go away.

  • CJ

    Can we try empathy toward ALL parties involved, including a very upset father? A “triggered” police officer? A college administration trying to make sense of all this, act justly, and keep their students safe and feeling heard? A student who not only endured a gun pointed at him, but now finds himself at the center of a national conversation? And, as Tahj wisely asks (I paraphrase), can we keep in mind all those who suffer worse and have fewer resources?

    Pulling a gun seems both frightening and frightened. I do think knowing the race of the officer is useful, making it more difficult to see this situation in broad White Cop vs Black Youth terms, and showing it more in human/human terms. But I take issue with people then insulting Mr. Blow for leaving his race out of the first article. Too much insulting going on, and how is that constructive? What do we really care about and wish for here, as caring citizens?

    Stepping back, can we wonder what this officer (and any officer) may have endured or witnessed in youth, and what was behind his pulling a gun in that moment? Panic is not rational. By Mr. Blow’s account, the officer seemed to back-peddle a minute later, even to try to reach out a bit with his language, “My man”… perhaps realizing he over-reacted, though we don’t know.

    Along with examining campus police policy, it’s a good time to step back and think about how many police officers (and veterans, women, and people in general) have PTSD, are un-treated for it… have themselves been victimized or traumatized, and are at risk of acting reflexively in moments like this where emotion trumps judgment. I am not excusing. But at some point we need to examine how levelers of abuse (of all kinds) are often survivors of it. And educate, and raise awareness.

    Yale, and society, might increase investment in police training/counseling and ongoing support that goes deeper than basic job requirements. Perhaps, consider facilitated sit-down conversation between police and students? Take lemons and make lemonade. Be a shining example, as you are.

    Stepping back even more, society as a whole needs to REALLY address the alarming level of poverty, inequality, and accompanying shame and disrespect. Poverty should not even exist in this day and age with all the knowledge and resources available. Along with suffering it brings fear and projection, racism, and us-and-them mentality. If real economic and social progress requires policy change, like restoring taxes on the wealthiest and the biggest businesses, bringing jobs back to America, etc– let’s make it so! As Reich points out, when lower and middle classes do better, it benefits the upper classes as well, so everyone wins. One for all and all for one.

    I sincerely hope constructive conversation comes out of this situation. And constructive action. What do we get out of divisiveness and being ‘triggered’? Nada. We’re not just ‘playing cards’ here (race card, this card, that card). We’re talking about lives, and the right of all beings to respect and safety.

    May we strive to act out of, and toward, love rather than fear. May we not let King’s dreams, and our dreams, drown in an ocean of fear, reactivity, and cynicism.

    • Dally Saybrook

      There aren’t a lot of Republicans on the Yale faculty. Certainly there is a huge disparity between the faculty and the general population. What do you think is going on there?