Racial Profiling on Campus

January 14, 2016

Dr. Glennard Smith is a 50-year-old African American obstetrician-gynecologist who practically grew up on the campus of Michigan State University because his mother is a long-time professor there.  In June 2015 he chose one of the university buildings as a study venue as he prepared for professional recertification.  Late one evening, university police officers made a bee-line to the place where he was seated and began to interrogate him, claiming that he fit the description of a homeless man who had been stealing electronic devices.  Dr. Smith was dressed in fashionable clothing and was working on an expensive laptop computer.  He asked whether the officers were profiling him.  One responded by asking, “What is profiling?”  Later in the encounter, the officers were heard laughing about Dr. Smith’s profiling inquiry. 

The ACLU of Michigan wrote a letter to the chief of police at MSU expressing serious concern about this disturbing incident and submitted requests under Freedom of Information Act seeking documents about Dr. Smith’s encounter as well as any other allegations of racial profiling by MSU police within recent years.  In January 2016 we met with university officials to discuss the incident, and they are developing a series of policies, plans and programs intended to address racial profiling and similar concerns. 

(ACLU Attorneys Mark Fancher and Michael J. Steinberg.)

To view the full 2014-2015 Legal Docket, click here.