NEW ORLEANS (WVUE) - Two Xavier University police officers have been fired and the director of public safety has resigned after an incident Monday night on campus.
We spoke with students who say they were told to clean up after the school’s annual midnight breakfast, and then were locked in the cafeteria. The situation escalated when they say police used pepper spray.
“They locked the gates of the U.C., so people, you know, you can’t just do that. There’s a bunch of people in there, they started panicking,” said Xavier freshman Ariellele Bean.
“Once we found an exit, everyone started bombarding through that one door, and one of the XUPD tried to stop the crowd and it didn’t really work, but they ended up grabbing one of our friends,” Bean said. “I saw what happened. The student tried to back off, the police officer just kept trying to pull him away from the rest of the students who were running out.”
“I believe that XUPD was trying to manage the crowd, crowd control, but the way that they went about it was uncalled for, it was honestly animalistic, like we’re not animals were students,” said Xavier freshman T.J. Moreno. “It’s a great school, great academics, great everything but that honestly set me back. I wish that I could feel safe, and I feel like in order for that to happen there has to be more than just, 'Oh, yeah, we fired the two that you saw.’”
Xavier would not confirm that officers pepper-sprayed students. The university released the following statement:
Following an incident that took place Monday night at Xavier University of Louisiana, two officers involved in the incident have been permanently relieved of their duties and removed from campus, and Director of Public Safety Jacques S. Battiste has submitted his resignation.
“I am deeply disturbed by the incident that took place on Monday night involving our students. Incidents like these do not reflect the core values of our university and are unacceptable,” states Dr. Reynold Verret, President of Xavier University of Louisiana.
President Verret added: “The well-being and safety of every Xavier University student is of paramount importance, and we will ensure that we hold ourselves and each other accountable for any action that violates that commitment or does not abide with our mission.”
Initiatives to address student concerns related to the incident will be led by Vice President of Student Affairs, Mr. Curtis Wright, who will serve as the Interim Director of Public Safety as the University conducts a national search for a permanent leader to fill this crucial role.