Student robbed at gunpoint outside of Community Park Tuesday, Oct 6 2020 

By Madelin Shelton — 

A student was robbed at gunpoint late last night outside of Community Park after an officer spotted the incident during a routine patrol.

University of Louisville students received a RAVE alert a little after 11 p.m. on Oct. 5 in response to the robbery.

The officer noticed a subject walking on the street who then ducked behind a parked vehicle on 4th street in front of the residence hall. The officer proceeded to investigate, where they saw the subject leaning over what appeared to be a person on the ground.

“Officers immediately responded, making contact with the victim on the ground and learned that they had just been held at gunpoint and [had] their cellphone stolen,” Lewis said.

Officers attempted to apprehend the subject, but failed. However, they were able to recover the stolen cellphone in their search. There were no reported injuries to the victim.

The identity of the suspect remains unknown and an arrest has yet to be made, but the RAVE alert described the individual as “a black male of unknown age, braids, 5’10” 180 lbs, wearing a white jogging suit.” ULPD’s Detective Unit is conducting a follow-up investigation.

File Graphic // The Louisville Cardinal

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U of L apologizes for vague RAVE alert Friday, Sep 11 2020 

By Eli Hughes–

A vague RAVE alert sent campus-wide at 2:19 a.m. Sept. 10 potentially endangered students and resulted in an almost immediate apology.

The alert said: “A black male wearing a red hoodie ran from Clark County Indiana Police and is possibly on campus. If you see someone matching this description- call ULPD or LMPD.”

Faculty and students said the vague description was potentially dangerous to black students on campus.

Three U of L officials released statements the morning after the alert went out to apologize for the incident.

“This morning a RAVE Alert went out asking our campus to be on the lookout for a Black male in a red hoodie, ” President Neeli Bendapudi said in her statement. “That is not an anti-racist statement. While the description may have been true, it is too vague to be of any help and it perpetuates negative stereotypes (especially on a campus whose colors are red and black and whose student population is proudly more than 12% Black) that make some members of our campus community targets. There is no excuse for that.”

Bendapudi apologized to those who were negatively affected by the alert and promise that the university would do better in the future.

ULPD Chief Gary Lewis took responsibility for the mistake and said the alert was unapproved and did not fit the criteria for a RAVE alert.

“The lack of oversight in approval of the message, the tone and the ambiguous wording all potentially contributed to making some individuals on our campus that already suffer from the trauma of racial stereotyping less safe and not more,” Lewis said. “Further, our policy is to use RAVE Alerts for law enforcement updates only when there is either 1) a serious crime, or 2) an immediate threat to our campus. This situation did not meet either criteria.”

Dr. Kaila Story, a professor of Women and Gender Studies and Pan African Studies at U of L, posted her frustration to Facebook.

“These vague RAVE alerts have always put marginalized groups on our campus at risk. BIPOC faculty, students and staff on our campus already have to navigate racialized and gendered microaggressions in almost every space on our yard, and when alerts like these come through our phones and emails they inevitably invite more scrutiny and harm to these already vulnerable groups,” Story said.

“It wasn’t just Black male bodies that were put at risk, it was also Black bodies that registered to onlookers as masculine, non-binary and/or masculine as well,” Story said. “So many folks were put at risk.”

One student who was hurt and disappointed when he saw the RAVE alert was Torien Miles, a senior at U of L. “I’m in the marching band and we had just had a performance the day before and I was on campus, as a black male wearing red. I wear red all the time,” Miles said.

“So I fit the description just a couple hours before that RAVE alert went out. And if had gone out, instead of 2 a.m. at 8 p.m. or something I would have been on campus fitting that description.”

Miles believes that if the university is going to stay true to their anti-racist ideas, there needs to be actions taken, and not just apologies after the fact. “That email is a good step in the right direction but it takes a lot more visible action and a lot more workable action to make these things right,” he said.

Faye Jones, senior associate vice president for diversity and equity said, “As the mother of children that fit the description of the RAVE Alert that went out this morning, I am sitting with the enormous weight and frustration of yet another example of how our systems can fail our young Black and Brown students, faculty and staff. The system unquestionably failed this morning.”

Jones said she would be working with her colleagues and university stakeholders to prevent this issue from happening again. She also apologized and offered support to anyone who was hurt by the mistake.

Story agrees that this mistake goes against the anti-racist goals the university has.

“If U of L truly aims to be seen and regarded as a premier anti-racist institution these types of incidents cannot continue to happen. Their needs to be structural changes behind those aims. I also think that financial allocations need to be adjusted within the University to prioritize departments, programs, and initiatives that have always been invested in teaching anti-racist praxis,” she said.

The Student Government Association ‘Top Four’ also believes the university needs to be held accountable for this incident. In a statement posted on social media they said,  “The Student Government Association shares your frustrations regarding this RAVE alert incident as well as the repeated alerts that went out a couple weeks ago regarding protests in the area. Campus safety includes all of us, and we cannot achieve that when we put our Black students at risk.”

“Please know that SGA has been working with ULPD and university administration on this issue. We are committed to holding university leadership accountable to this repeated issue.”

Graphic by Joseph Garcia // The Louisville Cardinal

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University leaders hold virtual forum with community Thursday, Jun 11 2020 

By Joseph Garcia —

University of Louisville President Neeli Bendapudi held a virtual forum with U of L Police Department Chief Gary Lewis and Criminal Justice Department Chair Cherie Dawson-Edwards on June 9 to answer community questions on the relationship between ULPD and the Louisville Metro Police Department.

Lewis began by explaining the current relationship ULPD has with LMPD and how it goes back to the 1970s.

“Following the Kent State incident, many universities felt it important to create and develop their own police force,” Lewis said. “Many may not know, but this organization started with a Louisville Metro retiree.”

Lewis said that when he arrived to U of L two years ago, ULPD had about 98% retired Louisville Metro police officers working for ULPD. “To date, we are at about 40%,” Lewis said.

Lewis said that ULPD is a state accredited police department with less than 50 sworn officers, about 30 security officers and travel escorts.

Bendapudi also explained there is no formal partnership agreement between the two police departments that U of L can divest from.

Dawson-Edwards told students: “We hear you.”

“I realize that people think that training and education as just a reform thing, not a divest, but I want to argue it’s both,” Dawson-Edwards said. “We have to do training and education, and we need to do it better. We need to hold the police accountable, we need to hold ourselves accountable for that education and training.”

Like Bendapudi said in her response to BSU, Dawson-Edwards has committed to doing equity audits for all criminal justice academic programs, including the police executive leadership development certificate.

“I want to make sure that we are infusing equity, inclusion, diversity, social justice, all types of things in our curriculum,” she said. “It is not enough for us to just teach people how to be police and not teach people what they should expect from the community in this society that we’re living in.”

She anticipates the Southern Police Institute, a 60-year old officer training program located and taught at U of L, will do the same. This could include more activities, training and education about these particular issues with current police officers.

During the Q&A portion of the forum, Bendapudi was asked why U of L could not do what the University of Minnesota did in choosing to dissociate from their local police department.

“The reality is that we are an urban campus as you’ve heard,” Bendapudi said. “Our streets and roads, and Louisville’s, are intertwined. So we definitely need to work together–that’s the concurrent and overlapping jurisdictions you’ve heard about.”

Dawson-Edwards further explained that what is coming out of Minnesota is because people have been researching and doing the work to understand the problems for a long time.

“They are primed for it,” Dawson-Edwards said. “They have a 150 year history document on performance review for their police called ‘Enough is Enough.'”

“You can’t just take one city’s or one university’s blueprint and lay it on top of ours without making sure that our stuff matches theirs,” Dawson-Edwards said.

Bendapudi ended the forum by reiterating the actions U of L is taking, including now doing background checks for any officer who works at university events.

“As mother and leader of higher education, who has always cared for her students, I am telling you that we are going to work together on this,” Bendapudi said. “There is so much to learn.  I catch myself all the time when I forget all the privileges I have and you as young people, you’re educating us.”

She then committed to an anti-racist agenda moving forward. Bendapudi said there will be more forums in the future to continue discussion on broad, difficult topics.

“Let’s not forget this moment, this is not performative. This is not just until the news cycle changes. It’s important,” Bendapudi said. “I will do my best and I give you my word. My job is to do the very best I can for you, and that’s what I intend to do.”

File Photo // The Louisville Cardinal 

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