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Manchester University student 'traumatised' by 'racial profiling' incident

Monday November 16, 2020
By Shamaan Freeman-Powell

Zac Adan says he was left traumatised by the incident

The University of Manchester has suspended security officers who were accused of "racially profiling" a student.

It comes after footage posted online showed first-year student Zac Adan held up against a wall by security guards who demanded to see his ID.

Mr Adan, 19, said he was accused of "looking like a drug dealer" by staff at Fallowfield halls of residence.

The university said it was investigating the "serious incident".

"We are deeply concerned by these images," it added in a statement.

"We have spoken to the student concerned, launched a full investigation and have suspended the security officers (without prejudice), pending the results of this investigation."

Mr Adan, a French and Linguistics student at the university, said he had been "traumatised" by the incident and has not been able to sleep since it took place.

He said he was returning back to his halls of residence after visiting a local shop when he was asked to present his identification.

"I had my ID card in my hand and they tried to snatch it from me. The next thing I know I was being pinned up against the wall," he said.

Mr Adan said everyone on campus had been told to show their identification to security guards on the gate before entering.

He added: "There was no conversation. They just pinned me up against the wall and said I looked like a drug dealer. Why? Because I am black and wearing a hoodie?

Zac considered studying law at another university before opting for languages at Manchester

In the footage, security guards can be seen walking off after looking at his university identification. One officer explains to a student nearby: "When you showed your card, you covered your face up - that's all."

It comes after students tore down "prison-like" fencing which was erected around Fallowfield campus on day one of England's new lockdown.

The university apologised "for the concern and distress caused" at the time, saying "alternative security measures, including additional security patrols are being put in place".

In an exclusive interview, Mr Adan, who is the first in his family to go to university, told the BBC he believed this was an example of racial profiling and said it could be damaging to prospective students.

"It's disgusting, I haven't been able to sleep. I am traumatised by the situation," he said.

"My parents came from Somalia as refugees and have given up everything for me to be at this institution.

"I am the first person in my family to go to university, so for me it's an achievement - but when they hear about things like this happening, my parents are begging me to go back home."

'Stopped and abused'
Mr Adan said he moved to the UK from Italy a few years ago and has "suffered racism" all his life, but added: "Britain has been so accepting and welcoming, I genuinely think this is one of the most accepting countries in the world and, when things like this happen, it lets the country down."

He is calling for the university to apologise and says he wants to speak to its chancellor.

"I want to be able to live in peace and enter my flat in peace and not be stopped and abused by the people we are paying to protect us," he said.

In a statement, a spokesperson for the university said: "On Saturday, 14 November we were made aware of an alleged serious incident on our campus and began investigating it immediately.

"We have been in regular contact with the affected party and keeping them fully informed of our progress.

"The safety and wellbeing of our students is always of the utmost importance to us and we take these kind of allegations extremely seriously."


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