An Arizona State University Professor is currently facing felony charges after authorities allege that she attacked a police officer during arrest. Dr. Ersula Ore was initially stopped for illegally walking across a street on campus. She told the police officer that construction obstructed the space where pedestrians regularly crossed, evidenced through the many people who had also crossed in the middle of the street throughout the whole day.
Officer Ferrin asked for ID, and the situation escalated; fortunately for Dr. Ore, the whole confrontation was caught on tape. Ore refused to show ID and Ferrin brutally slammed her to the ground which caused her dress to rise up. Her body was exposed and when she stood up, Ferrin reached for her dress, and Ore kicked him. Now she is charged with aggravated assault on a police officer, criminal damage, and obstructing a thoroughfare.
Ore’s lawyer Alane Roby claims that the professor was acting in self-defense. She states:
“She was exposed, told officer she was exposed…Her dress was up; the officer was reaching toward her anatomy. She felt uncomfortable with hands going there.”
This single event highlights the many tensions black women experience with the justice system. Not only do we face racialized discrimination, we simultaneously face gender discrimination. The fact that Ore was spotted for doing something most students do on a campus is suspect. Additionally, the condescending tone that Officer Ferrin used to speak to Dr. Ore highlights the blatant disrespect that black professors experience…even on the campus that they work on. In the video, she consistently attempts to tell the officer that she is a professor on the campus…not to get out of legal trouble, but to get respect.
While no one is “above” the law [even though I’m sure some people actually are treated as such…] we have to remember that certain populations are disproportionately targeted over others. This is why many minoritized folks do not even call the police in a time of need out of fear that they will be disciplined by the racist/sexist system.
This conversation became a bit more mainstream after the slaying of Florida teen Trayvon Martin. While he was being stalked by George Zimmerman, many asked “why didn’t he call the police?” Not everyone feels as though the police protect. If you actually just go back a few decades, most police were actually overt white supremacists which created a culture of ignorance and discrimination in the police force that lasts to this day. The “good ol’ boys” were also known to harass women. Even today, women are routinely sexually harassed by police officers which is why it’s recommended that if you’re getting pulled over late at night by police, you should call 911 just to be sure.
Dr. Ore was justified in asking for respect and was right to defend herself in a time when she felt vulnerable [with her hands cuffed behind her bad] with her body parts exposed.
ASU released a statement supporting the police officer’s actions:
“ASU authorities have reviewed the circumstances surrounding the arrest and have found no evidence of inappropriate actions by the ASUPD officers involved. Should such evidence be discovered, an additional, thorough inquiry will be conducted and appropriate actions taken.”
“Because the underlying criminal charges are pending, there is not much more we can say at this time. The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has reviewed all available evidence, including the police report, witness statements, and audio and video recordings of the incident, and decided to press criminal charges of assaulting a police officer, resisting arrest, refusing to provide identification when requested to do so by an officer, and obstructing a highway or public thoroughfare.”
There’s a petition circulating on the internet that is demanding justice for Dr. Ore. Please sign and/or circulate: http://petitions.moveon.org/sign/justice-for-professor.fb52?source=s.fb&r_by=726970
Here’s the video of Dr. Ore’s arrest: