A shocking video showing a black female Arizona State University professor being manhandled and slammed to the ground by campus police last month for allegedly jaywalking is now drawing heavy criticism and protest online despite the University declaring that the police did not act inappropriately.
"This is yet another instance of racial profiling and police brutality. The Arizona State University Police Department should drop all charges and issue an unqualified apology," notes a change.org petition that has already been signed by nearly 9,000 people in support of the professor.
A copy of the video of the incident made public in a 3TV report shows portions of the encounter between Ersula Ore and police officers before her manhandling.
"The reason I'm talking to you right now is because you are walking in the middle of the street," officer Stewart Ferrin can be heard telling professor Ore after stopping her as she crossed College Avenue, just south of Fifth Street near the campus.
Things, however, quickly took an ugly turn when the officer demanded that the professor produce her ID.
"Let me see your ID or you will be arrested for failing to provide ID," Ferrin said.
"Are you serious?" Ore asked.
"Yes, I am serious. That is the law," Ferrin said.
Ore, according to the report, said she was surprised about being approached by the officers and insists she was not jaywalking. She says she was simply trying to avoid construction the same way everyone else in that area had done when the officers stopped her in the middle of the street.
"I never once saw a single solitary individual get pulled over by a cop for walking across a street on a campus, in a campus location. Everybody has been doing this because it is all obstructed. That's the reason why," Ore told the officer. "But you stop me in the middle of the street to pull me over and ask me, 'Do you know what this is? This is a street.'"
Ore explained in an interview with CNN Monday that she was taken aback by the disrespectful manner in which she was accosted by the police who had aggressively asked her if she knew the difference between a street and a sidewalk.
She said she asked him, "Do you always accost women in the middle of the road and speak to them with such disrespect and so rudely as you did to me?"
At no point, she explained, did the officer ask for her name or tell her why she was being questioned.
"He throws the car door open actually, is what happens, and he's towering over me," she said. "He's intimidating. I don't know why he's so aggressive."
It is after this point, according to the video, that Officer Ferrin attempts to arrest the professor.
"OK, put your hands behind your back," said Ferrin.
"Don't touch me," Ore replied. "Get your hands off me."
"Put your hand behind your back. I'm going to slam you on this car. Put your hand behind your back," Ferrin said.
"You really want to do that? Do you see what I'm wearing? Do you see?" Ore asked him.
Ore was wearing a black dress at the time of the incident which hiked up as she was slammed against the vehicle causing exposure of her body.
Police charged her with aggravated assault on a police officer in addition to criminal damage and obstructing a thoroughfare, according to 3TV. Ore said she intends to fight the charges.
ASU released the statement below to 3TV on the arrest:
"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."