UMass Amherst Employee Says He Was Racially Profiled

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(Facebook.com/UMass Amherst)

AMHERST (WBZ-AM) -- A longtime UMass Amherst worker, who is African-American, told WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Matt Ledin he was the victim of racial profiling after an anonymous call led plainclothes police to stop and question him as he walked to his job at the university.

Reg Andrade said he was just following his normal daily routine, walking across campus to his job in the main administration building when officers stopped him Friday morning.

"All I was doing was walking from the gym, going to work, just doing a mundane, ordinary activity that millions of people do every single morning, to go to work," he said. "And why was I stopped? Simply because of the color of my skin, and somebody made a false assumption of somebody, and they racially profiled me."

Police said they received an anonymous call saying a "very agitated" African-American man was walking around campus with a large duffel bag around 7:45 a.m. The call described exactly what Andrade was wearing. He wondered how someone could pass him without speaking and find him "agitated."

"That is the most peaceful time of my day," he said. "I was not agitated, I love that walk in the morning."

Reg said this was his third time being racially profiled, and that the experience will stay with him.

"This will impact me for the rest of my life," Andrade said. "I don't feel comfortable anymore walking around campus. Am I gonna get stopped again? Is somebody gonna make a phone call? When somebody knocks on my office door, is it the police again? So I will never feel comfortable here at University of Massachusetts Amherst walking around."

UMass spokesperson Ed Blaguszewski said he believes police did act appropriately given the information they received--but acknowledges that it is a difficult experience for their employee.

"No one should be in a place where they're going about their business and end up being suspected of misbehavior, and that's just very difficult to endure," he said.

UMass Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy said in a statement to the campus community that he hopes the call was motivated by a desire to protect public safety--but also knows racial profiling, intentional or not, corrodes efforts to make the university welcoming.

"As this incident illustrates, we still have much work to do," Subbaswamy wrote in the statement. "We recognized this when introducing our campaign this fall to build a Community of Dignity and Respect, and we will be fully engaged to build awareness and to educate in the months ahead. I ask for everyone’s participation in this most important undertaking."

Subbaswamy called Andrade "a valued member of our community."

Asked if he would leave the university, Andrade said he's "not sure what I'm gonna do, I have to contemplate my future."

WBZ NewsRadio 1030's Laurie Kirby (@LaurieWBZ) reports

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