More than 100 faculty, students, and supporters aligned with Providence College Coalition Against Racism (SELF) gathered at the gate of River Avenue and Eaton Street around noon to protest racially motivated harassment by the Lieutenant of Public Safety John Dunbar. Lieutenant Dunbar has been the victim of harassment throughout his 32-year career at Providence Collegebut it escalated when he was promoted from sergeant to lieutenant in 2017 after a consultant recommended the step after an investigation into racial profiling at the college, organizers argue.
Multiple serious incidents of racial profiling have been the focus of Providence College and CAR student activism since 2013. An end to profiling was one of the students’ demands after black student activists occupied the president’s office in 2016. This request was renewed in 2020 when profiling has not been stopped. Two public safety chiefs have been forced out of their jobs due to the continued profiling.
Not only did the profiling of students, visitors and professors of color continue, organizers say, but Lt. Dunbar himself was explicitly profiled and targeted by security officers.
In his public statement, Lt. Dunbar alleged numerous incidents of racism:
- Sabotaging my food and water at the office.
- Having a colleague gloating that they had an incident of bias that I reported about them 19 years ago was recently erased from their file. the comment was about me and another colored officer having babies and the supervisor said, “two more black babies in the world” in a derogatory tone.
- Become the third highest ranking officer in the department and face hostility from the officers to the point of being spat in the face by a sergeant in the department’s conference room.
- Not having a designated office in the OPS building and being ostracized from the department by being assigned to work in another building, while a lower-ranking supervisor was allowed to maintain a private office within the Security office public.
- Receiving training for investigative roles like Title IX, Title VI, and Internal Affairs, and having those responsibilities removed from his responsibilities without explanation.
- Respond to a situation where a student spat on him and repeatedly called him the “N-word”. The student also bit another officer. The College only had concerns for the officer who suffered the bite and never responded to the racist attack on Lt. Dunbar.
- Being racially profiled four times in the last year at the Huxley Avenue gate by the same officer where I’m stopped at the gate and then allowed to go to campus each time with the officer stating he didn’t know who I was. This agent has a history and numerous complaints of profiling at the gate, faculty, staff and students at the gate. This has happened four times in the past year.
“These are just a few examples of what I have experienced and what students, staff and faculty of color have shared, they have also experienced,” Lt. Dunbar said addressing attendees at the expression. “I have tried to follow the College’s protocol for reporting concerns, but my concerns are always dismissed as not being overt racism. The instances of racial harassment I experience at PC demonstrate the implicit bias of the community where management does not take these concerns seriously or take action to end this behavior and educate the campus community. Providence College will never be a “beloved community” when racial discrimination is allowed to continue. »
Lieutenant Dunbar was introduced by Dr. Anthony Rodriguezteacher in the Department of Primary and Special Education who has faces a similar history of harassment and retaliation by members of his department and administration because of his exposure of the discriminatory treatment of students of color in his department.
“When you are a person of color on our campus and want to change our system, you will face a wall of silence; then, you will be ignored; as the issues you raised become so strong that it’s obvious, the administration will blame you for the things you raised, and they ignored it,” Professor Rodriguez said. “They’ll say you didn’t say it in the right way, in the right tone, in the right way. What they’re saying is we only listen to white people. Your color is getting in the way of communication.
“We have a well-funded diversity program that has yet to focus on structural change because it’s easy to spend a dime a dozen on programming and guest speakers; the hard and valuable work is to change the culture here, to challenge the status quo, to hold someone accountable for what they have done,” Professor Rodriguez continued. “I have experienced this many times, retaliation after retaliation in the primary and special education program, where in 2019 I exposed some of the problems that we were facing. Since then, it has been an open season on this Mexican , the administration teaming up with those in my department who discriminated against black and Latina women.
“That same open season pattern targeting Blacks and Browns at Providence College is now happening to Officer Dunbar,” Professor Rodriguez concluded. “I want us all to listen to it and think about what it must be like to show up every day to work for decades while enduring such treatment.”
Lt. Dunbar demanded that Providence College remove the vast majority of public safety administrators as well as lower-level security officers who engaged in harassment and racial profiling. If the college does not take this action, Providence College’s new public safety chief likely will not be able to address the college’s continued discriminatory behavior by public safety officers.
“The problem is not just the actions of these agents who are doing the profiling,” the Providence College professor said. Eric Hirsch, a member of the Coalition Against Racism at Providence College. “The problem is that the administration is not doing anything about it.”
Providence College would not comment on the specific fee.