Students Sue Loyola, Allege Civil Rights Violations in Feb. 24 Incident

Courtesy of Natalie BattagliaLoyola officials announced classes would be canceled Tuesday evening through Thursday morning due to severe cold weather.

Loyola students Alan Campbell and Paloma Fernandez are suing the university, claiming their civil rights were violated when they were “detained” by Campus Safety officers in February, according to the lawsuit, which was filed March 21 in federal court.

The complaint said Campus Safety officers treated them unfairly because of their race — Campbell is black, Fernandez is Latina — and used excessive force. The complaint also argues Loyola defamed and intentionally caused them emotional distress.

Evangeline Politis, a Loyola spokeswoman, said the school doesn’t provide comment for ongoing litigation.

During the Feb. 24 incident, the complaint said Campbell and Fernandez saw Campus Safety officers searching two black males near the entrance to a basketball game on Loyola’s Lake Shore Campus. Campus Safety said the two males were scalping tickets on Loyola property, which is in violation of university policy.

According to the complaint, Campbell saw the officers frisking the males and chanted, “What is going on over there?” One of the officers “quickly and aggressively grabbed Mr. Campbell and in a ‘take-down’ maneuver and forced Mr. Campbell to the ground,” according to the complaint.

Fernandez “attempted to help Mr. Campbell by trying to distract one of the officers,” before that officer grabbed her by her shirt collar and pushed her to a wall, according to the complaint.

The complaint said the officers walked Campbell through the Damen Student Center to the officers’ car “in further intent to embarrass Mr. Campbell.”

While Campbell was in the squad car, the complaint alleges one of the officers told Campbell “none of these students outside surrounding the car give a damn about you,” referring to a group of students who had encircled the car, preventing it from moving.

After the incident, the complaint alleges Loyola defamed Campbell and Fernandez, saying the incident was “not about race — it was about safety.” In doing so, the complaint said Campbell and Fernandez were defamed and stereotyped as “unsafe and dangerous.”

The complaint also argues Loyola failed to properly train its officers —  who have the same powers as municipal police officers under Illinois law.

Campbell and Fernandez are requesting damages be paid to them, according to the complaint.

They also claim in the lawsuit The PHOENIX falsely reported Campbell was “arrested,” and they are asking the newspaper to, among other things, publish a series of corrections on its front page.

An attorney for Campbell and Fernandez couldn’t be reached for comment.

The case is working its way through federal court. An initial court meeting is scheduled for the morning of May 10.


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