The circumstances surrounding the arrest of Newark High School graduate Mohammed Sanogo raise serious concerns that warrant the attention of students at the university. The incident, which unfolded on June 15 less than an hour after Sanogo’s graduation ceremony at the Bob Carpenter Center, has revealed concerning facts that demand a closer examination of the actions and motivations of those involved.
The initial facts are troubling in their own right. Following his graduation, Sanogo prayed with his friends in the parking lot, according to eyewitnesses. After getting in his car and driving away, his tires made a noise that led the University of Delaware Police Department (UDPD) officers to effectuate his arrest. Sanogo was apprehended by officers and charged with resisting arrest and reckless driving.
However, these charges were subsequently dropped, bringing to light some concerning differences between the alleged offenses and what actually occurred.
One of the most disturbing factors is the delay in releasing critical evidence: the police body camera and building video footage that capture Sanogo’s arrest. The footage, released to the public nearly 40 days after the incident, changes the circumstances of the case entirely as a different vehicle, not belonging to Sanogo, is shown driving recklessly in the parking lot.
This pivotal piece of evidence casts serious doubts on the validity of the initial accusations. The withholding of crucial information raises concerns about accountability and transparency within the UDPD.
Another aspect of this case that demands scrutiny is the initial portrayal of Sanogo’s actions. UDPD implied that he was driving recklessly and potentially endangering others in the parking lot. The subsequent information that it was a different vehicle contradicts the initial reports, prompting questions about the motives behind the initial arrest. Was this an innocent misjudgment or something more prejudiced?
The concerns around unequal treatment and racial profiling become especially important in cases like Sanogo’s. Are students of different races and ethnic backgrounds subject to different standards when interacting with the police, and is racial profiling at play?
An important factor to consider is the comparison between the treatment of Sanogo and that of white university students, particularly in situations involving alcohol and reckless behavior on campus, such as students acting recklessly on Main Street and tampering with school property.
Instances of leniency when it comes to the transgressions of white university students begs the question: how much privilege do white university students enjoy when it comes to interactions with the UDPD? Do the university police treat a Black 18-year-old student differently from their white counterparts? The apparent racial and religious undertones of this incident cannot be ignored.
These events have caused the Christina School District school board to vote to no longer hold their graduations on the university’s campus. In fact, school district officials plan to request a refund from the university for the aforementioned graduation ceremony due to the university’s failure to “to provide appropriate and compassionate event security leading to a violent arrest,” according to a statement released by the district.
Another upsetting aspect of this situation is that the university has yet to release a statement of their own directed towards university students discussing the arrest. While they did release a statement that was sent to both Christina School District officials and the Newark Post, the statement does not discuss the motivations behind Sanogo’s arrest or even an apology. Rather, it only states that the UDPD did not act with racial or religious bias.
Sanogo’s aspirations and academic achievements also deserve to be recognized. He is pursuing a degree in rocket science at the University of Maryland and has a remarkable high school GPA exceeding 4.0, which both show that Sanogo is a student with a promising future.
University students must demand answers and accountability in cases like Mohammed Sanogo’s. The university must address these concerns and admit their mistakes in the case of Sanogo’s arrest. University students have an opportunity to reflect on the relationship between the UDPD and the community it serves. The responsibility lies with both the UDPD and the university administration to address the concerns raised by this incident, offering not just explanations, but concrete actions that will prevent these situations from occurring on campus in the future.
The Review’s weekly editorials are written to reflect the majority opinion of The Review’s staff. This week’s editorial was written by Beth Wojciechowski, associate arts and culture editor. She may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.