Harvard University Police Held Four Black Students At Gunpoint After False 911 Call

Harvard University Police Held Four Black Students At Gunpoint After False 911 Call

(Photo by Mark Garfinkel/Boston Herald/MediaNews Group/Boston Herald via Getty Images)

Four Black Harvard students had their undergraduate suite raided by campus police. 

The Harvard Crimson reported that four Black students living in Leverett House were awakened by Harvard University Police and ordered to exit their suites at gunpoint. 

Steven G. Catalano, a spokesman for Harvard University Police Department, told the Harvard Crimson that campus police received calls threatening violence against occupants. After a search of Leverett House, campus police did not find any weapons, nor did they find anyone “acting suspicious.”  

According to the report, Jarah K. Cotton, Jazmin N. Dunlap, David G. Madzivanyika, and Alexandra C. René, all seniors, were awakened at 4:00 a.m. by police banging on the door, Cotton told the Harvard Crimson

“All I can recall having in my mind is ‘I haven’t done anything,’” Cotton said to the Harvard Crimson. “I really had no clue why they were raiding our suite.”

After police searched the suite and were convinced that the students were harmless, they were told that they were responding to a false report, which is why it was believed there was an active threat. 

“We were all extremely scared, particularly because my roommates and I are Black students who have been bombarded our whole lives with stories and images portraying how situations such as this had ended up terribly,” Cotton said to the Harvard Crimson via email. “We felt our lives were in danger. We are traumatized.”

“I was really, really scared, but I feel like that was nothing compared to how the other suite felt,” Tsige said.

Harvard Crimson also reported that the false report is called swatting. Swatting happens when someone places a fake emergency 911 call to scare people with potentially violent encounters with police.