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The Harvard Community Responds To Viral Video Of Police Violently Assaulting Black Student During Arrest

The Harvard Community Responds To Viral Video Of Police Violently Assaulting Black Student During Arrest
Getty Images/Paul Giamou

Members of the Harvard University community are standing together to call for justice in the wake of the violent assault of a Black student on Friday evening.

In a video clip taken of the incident that has since gone viral, four officers are seen surrounding 21-year-old Selorm Ohene as he stands naked in the middle of the street. Suddenly, one of the officers are seen tackling Ohene from behind and wrestling him to the ground. Shortly afterward, the officer is seen punching Ohene repeatedly as the other officers attempt to pin him down. 

The officers told investigators that they were responding to a call about a disturbance when they encountered Ohene in the street. A friend of Ohehe’s reportedly told police that the student had recently taken hallucinogenic drugs which may have possibly led to his behavior that evening.

A pool of blood stained the concrete where Ohene had laid following the arrest.

Despite several recent occurrences where police officers have taken known murderers into custody without incident mere hours after they’ve killed multiple people, the officers who arrested the unarmed, fully nude student say they brutally punched him during the arrest because his demeanor gave them reason to believe a “threat was imminent.”  

However, Ohene’s lawyers with Harvard Law School say the video tells the real story.

“He is currently recovering from injuries sustained during his encounter with the Cambridge Police Department,” his attorneys said in a statement. “This has been and continues to be a trying ordeal for Selorm and for his family.”

Cambridge Mayor Marc McGovern also issued a statement on Sunday, confirming that the incident is being investigated. “Cambridge affirms that Black Lives Matter,” McGovern said, according to NBC News.”But it must be true in practice as well.”

Members of the Harvard Black Law Students Association have since addressed the arrest on behalf of the Harvard Community in a statement posted to the University’s website, demanding that the officers involved be held accountable for their actions.

“This victim of police violence happened to be a Harvard student,” the statement read. “The University has ample resources that could have, and should have, been mobilized to come to the student’s aid prior to CPD getting involved. Harvard University Health Services (HUHS) were the first to be called for help prior to the arrival of CPD. Instead of sending staff to support the student, HUHS transferred callers to CPD, who then responded as police often do whether cameras are rolling or not — by failing to appropriately respond to the individual needs of the person concerned and resorting to violence unnecessarily and with impunity. By involving CPD, HUHS put this student at great risk of being killed by the police.”

You can read the full statement from the HBLSA HERE.