91°F
weather icon Clear

Black Lives Matter UNLV owes an apology to North Las Vegas cops

It doesn’t snow much in Las Vegas, but snowflakes have shown up at UNLV.

On Tuesday night, student groups, including Black Lives Matter UNLV, held a poetry competition outside the union. Sometime after the event concluded, seven North Las Vegas motorcycle officers rode through a nearby area. Black Lives Matter UNLV assumed the cops were trying to threaten them and posted a breathless comment on Facebook.

“The police officers swarmed like sharks in the parking lot behind the SU (student union) Courtyard and then entered the SU Courtyard where motor vehicles are usually not allowed,” reads the post. “We stared at them while they stared at us. In an attempt to intimidate the coalition of student organizations at UNLV, their presence has made a statement, however, we are not intimidated.”

The claims of intimidation would be more believable if they didn’t post a video showing what actually happened. Nothing.

The cops weaved slowly around empty tables and empty chairs for a minute and then drove off. The cops never flashed their lights or appeared to pay any attention to the few students remaining nearby. That’s because the cops were on a training exercise to practice going through tight spaces. It’s training they have done at UNLV for decades, and they do it in the evening to avoid disrupting student activities.

Take 30 seconds to watch the video, and you’ll see the likelihood of a stare-down is virtually nil. If officers had been watching the students, instead of where they were going, they’d have crashed into the furniture.

This would have been a good time for UNLV President Len Jessup to be the adult on campus and encourage everyone to take a deep breath. Maybe send a reminder on the dangers of rushing to conclusions, especially when all but accusing police officers of being motivated by racism.

Nope. Jessup issued a campus-wide message declaring the officers’ actions “unacceptable.” He cited no misconduct by the officers, other than them not giving UNLV police a courtesy heads up that they were on campus. He chastised them because their mere presence “caused concern.” He then demanded that the department apologize. Apologize for what? Jessup’s office refused my interview request.

The ones who should apologize are those running the UNLV BLM Facebook page. Their unsubstantiated claims that the officers were trying to “intimidate” them started this uproar.

The appearance of NLV police “cannot be dismissed as a simple coincidence,” said Javon Johnson, faculty adviser for the UNLV BLM chapter. “There exists a robust history of state intimidation and coercion, even, perhaps especially, under the guise of normal operations, such as routine training.”

“I don’t think it was a coincidence that they just decided to come and do their training there,” said Vera Anderson, who won the poetry event but left before the police showed up.

So, here’s their theory. Years before the BLM movement existed, North Las Vegas police started motorcycle training at UNLV. They used this as cover to intimidate African- Americans at a poetry reading that there’s no evidence the officers knew anything about. To be extra threatening, they showed up after the event had concluded. They didn’t interact with the students and left after a minute or so.

America has seen incidents in which cops used their power inappropriately to intimidate minorities. This isn’t one of them.

Listen to Victor Joecks discuss his columns each Monday at 9 a.m. with Kevin Wall on 790 Talk Now. Contact him at vjoecks@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-4698. Follow @victorjoecks on Twitter.

Don't miss the big stories. Like us on Facebook.
Politics Videos
'Evangelicals for Trump' event draws hundreds to Las Vegas hotel - VIDEO
Hundreds of President Donald Trump’s supporters packed the Ahern Hotel in Las Vegas for a faith-based campaign event. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak names new DETR director, head of unemployment task force - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak named Elisa Cafferata acting director of Nevada’s Department of Training, Employment and Rehabilitation and announced Barbara Buckley as the leader of a rapid response team on unemployment insurance at a press briefing Thursday afternoon. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak unveils long-term COVID-19 plan with Nevada Health Response team - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak announced Monday a long-term strategy for mitigating the spread of COVID-19 in Nevada through a targeted approach. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Sisolak: Bars in four counties to stay closed - VIDEO
Gov. Steve Sisolak said bars in four counties, including Clark County, will remain closed to help fight COVID-19. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
COVID-19 case reported at Legislature's special session - Video
A person who was inside the Nevada Legislature Building has tested positive for the COVID-19 virus, Legislative Counsel Bureau Director Brenda Erdoes said Friday, July 10. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Trump Pushing for Reopening Schools and In-Person Learning - Video
Donald Trump launched an effort on Wednesday to reopen schools across the United States with in-person learning.
Special session to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Lawmakers to tackle $1.2B budget deficit in special session Wednesday - VIDEO
Closing the state’s $1.2 billion budget hole will be the prime focus of the upcoming special legislative session that will convene at 9 a.m. Wednesday in Carson City, according to a proclamation issued by Gov. Steve Sisolak. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Clark County Democratic leaders resign
Several key Clark County Democratic Party leaders have resigned as progressive leadership has swelled in recent months.
Dream Big Nevada celebrates DACA ruling - VIDEO
The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday rejected President Donald Trump’s effort to end legal protections under DACA for 650,000 young immigrants. Astrid Silva, founder of Dream Big Nevada, discusses the temporary victory and the next step for Dreamers.
Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of city council meeting - Video
Las Vegas Councilwoman Michele Fiore walks out of a City Council meeting during public comments.
Mitt Romney marches in Washington, D.C., protest - Video
On Sunday, Republican Sen. Mitt Romney of Utah joined a group of protesters marching through Washington, D.C. (Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada gyms, bars that do not serve food can reopen Friday - VIDEO
Nevada Gov. Steve Sisolak on Tuesday evening said Phase 2 of the state’s Nevada United: Roadmap to Recovery will begin on Friday. (James Schaeffer / Las Vegas Review-Journal)
Nevada Rep. Horsford admits to having affair - VIDEO
Nevada Congressman Steven Horsford admitted to having an affair with Gabriela Linder, a former intern for Sen. Harry Reid. Linder detailed her account of the affair in a podcast she called, "Mistress for Congress." (Heidi Fang/Las Vegas Review-Journal)
THE LATEST