Daily reporter says police harassed him at Bursar’s Office

Britt Johnsen

A student reporter for The Minnesota Daily said University police harassed him Wednesday at the Bursar’s Office while he was reporting a story.

Koran Addo said he was in Williamson Hall waiting to speak with officials from the Bursar’s Office when he was approached by a University police officer who demanded he give her his student identification card.

Addo said he identified himself as a Daily reporter and asked why she needed identification, but she would not answer and continued to demand identification.

Two other University police officers then approached the scene, and the three officers surrounded Addo with a railing at his back, continuing to demand identification. Addo showed them his identification and his Daily business card, but he said police denied he was either a University student or a Daily reporter.

University police were unavailable for comment Wednesday night, and Greg Hestness, assistant vice president for public safety, would not comment until he spoke with police officials.

Addo said police told him the Bursar’s Office has money to protect, and employees call police if a suspicious person enters the office.

Addo said he was not acting suspiciously. He said he had identified himself as a Daily reporter wanting to ask University employees about the implications of a possible strike.

Addo – who is black – said he doubted Bursar’s Office employees reacted to his skin color.

“It’s possible,” Addo said. “I don’t think so, but maybe.”

Addo said he does not plan to file charges, but Daily Editor in Chief Shane Hoefer said he will meet with University police to discuss the incident.

“We feel the police treatment was excessive and inappropriate,” Hoefer said. “Koran happens to be our only black reporter, and to my knowledge, this has never happened to a white reporter.”

Mark Anfinson, attorney for The Minnesota Daily and several other media organizations, said it could also be a freedom of speech and press issue.

“If police were called to challenge him because he is a reporter, this is a serious law issue,” Anfinson said.