Eastman School of Music student says he was racially profiled by guards, video of incident goes viral

Local News

ROCHESTER, N.Y. (WROC) — Jahshanti Henry is a student at the Eastman School of Music. He says his passion is playing the flute, his dream — to play one day in an orchestra. “I really just want to play my music for the community,” he says.

Earlier this week Henry posted a video on his Instagram that went viral. Henry, who is Black, was asked by security guards for his identification while he was sitting down. They said someone reported him as ‘looking suspicious’.

Henry says that day, he lost his keys and was having a bad day. He said he was taking a load off near the school cafe when he was approached by public safety officers.

“No, I go to this school, bro. I go to this school,” he says to the guards in the Instagram video.

“I was going to give them my ID, but then I thought to myself, I didn’t do anything suspicious,” he says adding he was just walking and sitting down– and those actions do not merit that type of response. He says being racailly profiled has happened to him twice before at the school.

“You need to tell the person who reported me, that’s incredibly racist and biased,” he says.

The security supervisor eventually showed up, and told the guards Henry is a student—- it ended there. The school apologizing and putting out a statement saying:

The University of Rochester and its Eastman School of Music are aware of the situation on the night of May 11 where an Eastman student—who was sitting in the lobby of one of ESM’s campus buildings—was questioned by a University of Rochester Public Safety officer based on a concern from another Eastman student.  This incident is unsettling, upsetting and frustrating, especially in light of all the hard work done to ensure that the University of Rochester, including Eastman, provides safe, inclusive, and anti-racist environments throughout. In response to the May 11 event, there have been several actions already taken by University and Eastman’s leadership, including but not limited to launching an investigation into the incident, in accordance with the University’s Policy Against Discrimination, Harassment, and Discriminatory Employment/Services Practices; beginning previously scheduled sensitivity training for all University Public Safety officers; conducting a re-examination of Eastman School of Music campus procedures and training for Public Safety officers regarding requesting IDs; and providing to students, faculty and staff educational opportunities focused on issues of implicit-bias, “beyond color blindness,” community engagement, and other topics, beginning in the fall semester.

Sara Miller Spokesperson University of Rochester

Henry says even with the statement, the school still has a ways to go to prevent this kind of thing from happening. “They were very apologetic…but there’s still a lot to be changed here,” he says.

Henry speaking with News 8

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