Visiting Latinx student reports assault by DPS officer; Paxson and Latinx community respond

Around 12:30 a.m. Saturday morning outside Machado House, a senior delegate for this weekend’s Latinx Ivy League Conference was reportedly verbally harassed by two Department of Public Safety officers and then physically assaulted by one of the officers. Geovanni Cuevas, the student in question, was visiting from Dartmouth University and was staying in Machado House with a friend.

As a result of Cuevas’ experience, the Latinx Conference attendees cancelled planned events and discussions, and instead arranged an open meeting with President Christina Paxson P’19 and Mark Porter, Chief of Police for the Department of Public Safety. Following this meeting, both Russell Carey and President Paxson sent emails to the Brown community last night acknowledging the incident. Today, the Latinx Council convened again to discuss Paxson’s written plan for the University’s repsonse.

The meeting Saturday afternoon began at 1 p.m, with Paxson, Porter and Latinx delegates and supporters gathered in a crowded classroom in Salomon. Delegates formally presented Paxson with a list of demands to create a safe campus for students of color.

Paxson began by stating, “This will mainly be a time for listening, at least on my part.” Cuevas then gave the room his account of the incident outside Machado, explaining that he was “outside of the Machado party when a drunk student, stumbled outside.” Cuevas explained that the student “was confronted with flashlights and inappropriate touching” by the two DPS officers securing the event, “to which I had a very visceral response and said, ‘Hey, that’s inappropriate, you shouldn’t touch him like that.'”

The two officers then approached Cuevas and “proceeded to tell me that I was trespassing, despite the fact that I was a guest, hosted in that very house. As the situation escalated, I saw that my friends were uncomfortable, so I removed myself, but they told me I couldn’t come back to the house where I was being hosted. Obviously, I said that’s not going to happen, I’m sleeping here.”

When Cuevas went back in to the party through the back door, and went downstairs to find his host, he recalls that he “caught the attention of the security guard who was there.”  “Before I could even utter a sentence, I was grabbed, thrown up against the wall, thrown to the floor, told I was resisting when I wasn’t, scrapped on my face, told I was going to get pepper-sprayed,” he explained. “I was handcuffed and taken outside Machado, and detained there, until Brown students could come and verify my identity.”

Delegates of the Latinx Ivy League Conference then explained that the goal of their conference is “to empower the Latino students who have overcome cultural and structural challenges to attend Ivy League institutions.” Every year, around 80 students from these universities congregate to discuss “difficult topics that include race, gender, and socioeconomic factors effecting the Latino community in the United States.” However, the delegates had suspended the discussion of this year’s theme, Unity through Generations: the Past, Present and Future of Latino Leadership, to instead draft a list of demands for President Paxson.

“One of our delegates suffered violence at the hands of law enforcement hired by Brown. This incident recalls a longer history of institutionalized violence against communities of color,” said one Latinx delegate. The demands for President Paxson included:

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