Mother Says Native American Sons Were Racially Profiled After Police Were Called During Campus Tour

A New Mexico mother said she believed her two sons were racially profiled after police were called over their presence on a campus tour at Colorado State University (CSU) on Monday. 

Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray said Thomas Kanewakeron Gray, 19, and Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, 17, who are Mohawk, had "scraped their dollars together" to take their family to Fort Collins to tour the Colorado State University campus because "it was their dream to study there."

In a Facebook post, she wrote that during the tour, which the two teenagers had booked online, a parent in the group "got nervous" and called campus police on them because they were being "shy and quiet" and not "actively participating in the tour banter."

"The police officer pulled them aside and the tour continued without them," Gray said. 

She said her sons promptly showed the officer a confirmation email proving they had permission to be part of the tour, and they were "let go." 

"By that time, they had lost site of the tour group and called me frantically, saying, 'Someone called the police on us because we were quiet!'" Gray said. 

"I told them to leave immediately. I felt they had been the victim of racism and that they weren’t safe there," she continued, saying she was "so furious" over the incident she "could explode."

Gray mother said she called campus police, and the officer who responded told her he had moved there from Albuquerque 18 months ago and felt it "was a whole different culture up there [in Colorado]."

He told her "someone recently called the police because someone pulled a bumper sticker off their car" and that "when someone calls, no matter how stupid, the police must respond."

Gray said the officer directed her to the office of admissions to file a formal complaint. She called and was directed to a voicemail system, where she left a message detailing the incident.

A letter reportedly sent out to students by CSU staff said the university was investigating the incident.

“This incident is sad and frustrating from nearly every angle, particularly the experience of two students who were here to see if this was a good fit for them as an institution,” the letter, signed by Vice President for Enrollment and Access Leslie Taylor, Vice President for Diversity Mary Ontiveros and Vice President for Student Affairs Blanche Hughes, said, according to The Denver Post.

“As a University community, we deeply regret the experience of these students, while they were guests on our campus,” the letter continued. 

CSU has not responded to a request for comment from Newsweek. 

The incident occurred in the wake of a number of incidents on the CSU campus that were believed to be bias-motivated. 

Last autumn, a paper noose was found in a residence hall, while fliers linked to an extremist white supremacist hate group were circulated on the campus more than once, according to the Coloradoan newspaper.

In February, protests over a conservative speaker's appearance at CSU turned violent when a group of people, clad in face masks with skulls on them and wielding riot shields, confronted a group of protesters shouting Nazi slogans, the newspaper reported.