U of M grad embroiled in racial profiling row at Yale University

She called police because a black woman – another student – was sleeping in a common area.
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A University of Minnesota alum turned Yale grad student is embroiled in a racial profiling row after calling the police because a black woman was sleeping in a university common area.

Sarah Braasch, who was raised in Minnesota and graduated with two engineering degrees from the U, is now involved in the wider national conversation surrounding police being called on black people for innocuous reasons.

Braasch claimed to police she didn't know the sleeping individual, who as it turns out was a fellow grad student, 34-year-old Lolade Siyonbola, who fell asleep while working on a paper in Yale's Hall of Graduate Studies.

Siyonbola began recording her encounter with Braasch and the subsequent 17-minute conversation with police. Each video has been viewed more than a million times as of Saturday morning.

The 43-year-old U of M grad hasn't commented publicly since the incident, but did say on Siyonbola's video: "I have every right to call the police. You cannot sleep in that room." 

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After police spoke with an unhappy Siyonbola as they verified her identity, they spoke with Braasch and told her she had every right to be there, according to a statement.

"They also explained that this was not a police matter and were reporting the incident to the dean of the Graduate School of Arts and Sciences," it added.

Braasch got her two Minnesota degrees in aerospace and mechanical engineering. CityPages has more details on her background here, noting that she has written essays on her upbringing in White Bear Lake.

The New York Daily News has also delved into her previously expressed views on racism.

Here's the video:

Yale president calls on students to fight racism

The incident on Thursday prompted a statement from Yale President Peter Salovey, who according to the Yale Daily News wrote: "Universities are not utopias, and people of color experience racism on our campus as they do elsewhere in our country. This fact angers and disappoints me.

"Each of us has the power to fight against prejudice and fear. I hope you will join me in doing so."

The Yale Daily News reports that Braasch previously had another run in with a black grad student, allegedly blocking him from entering a common area, thinking he was an intruder.

This is the latest highly-publicized incident involving the profiling of black people for seemingly harmless acts.

Others have included the arrest of two black men for not buying anything at a Starbucks, and three people were detained while leaving their California Airbnb because a neighbor though they were burglars.

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