MONTCLAIR, NJ - Montclair State University officials have come under fire over a recent video that has surfaced of the campus police responding to a call of a fight between students on Wednesday, with guns drawn.
Students and alumni took to twitter after a video surfaced.
Students and alumni are concerned that this incident could have escalated and state that this is not the first incident of its type.
Joniesha Hickson, a Montclair State Alumna, stated, "I am deeply disturbed by the video posted. The Montclair State Police Department has been known to elicit excessive force on black and brown students for far too long and we finally caught them on video..."
Hickson stated that students sent the video to her and that the video below is what was posted on Twitter. She stated that this was only a snippet of the entire video.
Montclair State University officials offer a different account of the events.
"At approximately 4:30 p.m. on Wednesday, September 5, 2018 a law enforcement officer from the Montclair State University Police Department, while leaving the substation at the end of shift, observed a fight in progress between two individuals next to a car in a parking lot on the campus at Clove Road and Village Road."
They continued saying that the officer's use of weapon was warranted, given the "uncertainties surrounding the altercation."
"The primary role of the University Police is to keep the campus safe. Due to the uncertainties surrounding this altercation and vehicle stop, the officers took every precaution necessary to make sure that members of the campus community were not at risk. While the optics in the video may be unclear, the reality is that the officers acted according to New Jersey Attorney General guidelines and the process worked."
Hickson disagreed saying that the fight had already been dispersed by the time the police arrived. She indicated that there is a longer video showing the antecedent, other than the snippet posted on Twitter.
"One of the combatants was charged with simple assault. The other combatant was charged with simple assault, disorderly conduct, and resisting arrest. Both were processed and issued summons to appear in court before being releasing on their own recognizance by 7:00 p.m. The other two individuals were released at the scene without charges being filed."
"Consistent with State of New Jersey protocols, the Montclair State University Police Department is submitting a “use of force” report to the Passaic County Prosecutor’s Office for an independent review of the incident."
The concern Hickson and others have raised was that she didn't think there should have been a reason for the campus police to draw their weapons over a campus fight between students.
She maintains that by the time police arrived, the incident had been dissolved. "When the police got to the scene of the incident, it was already dissolved. Two students were EOF students."
She continued, "Why was there a need for guns?"
"We understand the need to respond to the incident, but what message is this sending to students on campus on the first day of school. A show of intimidation, a show of force?"
Hickson expressed that she has been in communication with the student-leaders and the person who recorded the video. She stated that minority students are "coming from an emotional place." She stated that, while some students are outraged, that she is getting involved and speaking out because some students are afraid of backlash from the university if they come forward. "We want consequences," Hickson continued.
MSU officials added that they were primarily concerned with securing the safety of the campus. "...there was no discharge of any weapons nor was any individual injured during the incident, except for one of the involved officers who sustained minor injuries."
Some students, who have spoken on anonymity, have been both vocal supporters of the MSU police handling of the matter, while others disagree.
"These are not isolated incidents on campus. Incidents like this have happened on campus before, we just haven't caught it on camera," Hickson concluded.