Black alumnus of SFU charged after controversial arrest by police at Burnaby campus

·2 min read

A Black man who was in an altercation with a police officer at the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser University last weekend has been charged in relation to the incident, despite criticism that it was racially motivated.

Burnaby RCMP say Babakayode Fatoba, 30, has been charged with causing a disturbance, obstructing a peace officer and assaulting a police officer.

In a detailed statement, police outlined the event on Dec. 11 that they say began with a complaint from a student that Fatoba wasn't wearing a mask, and was on campus contrary to SFU's current restrictions that only allow staff and students there.

RCMP say a Burnaby officer responded to a call from campus security at around 9 p.m. asking for "assistance with a man refusing to leave a campus dining hall."

When an officer arrived, the statement says, he found Fatoba, an alumnus of SFU, circling and yelling at campus security guards. RCMP say the officer tried to de-escalate the situation and asked him to leave but he refused.

A physical altercation between the officer and Fatoba ensued, the statement says, causing the officer to deploy pepper spray and then a Taser.

'Countless conversations about de-escalation'

Osob Mohamed, president of the Simon Fraser Student Society, condemned the police response in a series of tweets last weekend. Mohamed, who did not directly witness the arrest, said the arrest came after "countless conversations about de-escalation and the dangers of police presence on campus."

On Monday, the SFSS issued a statement further condemning the incident.

"This unnecessary use of force is a threat to the livelihood of our Black community members," the statement said. "How can SFU claim that our campuses are a safe place for BIPOC students and community members?"

The student society recommends that campus security stop calling RCMP on students who aren't causing any harm who are Black, Indigenous or people of colour because of the disproportionate harm they suffer during these types of incidents.

RCMP say the officer involved in the incident did use de-escalation techniques, but resorted to force because he feared for his safety.

There are several videos of the incident circulating on social media. Police warn viewers to watch the video in its entirety "and take into consideration the entirety of this complex and dynamic situation."

In an open statement Sunday, SFU president Joy Johnson said the school will conduct an external review.