City of Clayton responds to WU students falsely accused of not paying for meal

| Senior News Editor

In response to the events on July 7 where 10 black Washington University students were stopped by the Clayton police and falsely accused of not paying for their meals at IHOP, the Clayton City Manager Craig Owens and Clayton Police Chief Kevin R. Murphy met with several of the students today.

Earlier this week, the two also met with Clayton Mayor Harold Sanger as well as Chancellor Mark Wrighton and his staff.

According to Owens, who released a statement following the meetings on behalf of the City of Clayton, having the opportunity to sit down and talk with the students was eye-opening.

“The interaction with the students today was emotionally powerful,” the statement read. “We left with a much better understanding of how the students were feeling the night of July 7 and what it is like to be a young African-American who is confronted by the police. We, and Mayor Sanger, hope we are better people and intend to be better leaders because of the experience.”

In the letter, the City of Clayton takes responsibility for how the events of July 7 were handled and apologizes.

“In hindsight, it is clear to us that we mishandled the interaction with these 10 Washington University students and lacked sensitivity about their everyday reality because of how racial bias affects their lives,” the statement read. “For that, on behalf of the City of Clayton, we sincerely apologize.”

The letter also disclosed a path that Clayton expects to uphold moving forward. This includes the completion of the investigation by Murphy, more regular intensive training for the Clayton Police Department focusing on racial sensitivity, introducing body cameras to promote positive interaction techniques within the police department and an ongoing dialogue between the city and the Washington University community about relations between the Clayton police and the Clayton community they serve.

Owens closed out the letter by sharing his gratitude with the students for being willing to share their perspective on the experience.

“They came to Washington University to change the world and they have already done so,” Owens stated. “My promise to them is that we will work very hard to restore the confidence of these newest Clayton residents and ensure that they are safe and welcome in Clayton.”

  • C.D.

    When Wrighton wrote about these students being “scared and humiliated” by their mildly-inconvenient but ultimately-harmless interaction with law enforcement, he provided yet another contemporary example of universities needlessly babying their students. Upon hearing complaints about this non-issue, WashU should have simply stated that if a grown adult is frightened by brief interactions with reasonable police officers conducting routine investigations, that is a personal hangup the adult needs to work through, not a matter of broad concern for the university community. Alas, WashU unnecessarily validated these unreasonable feelings of fear and embarrassment, spammed my inbox, and wasted our tuition dollars on all this administrative action. Not to be outdone, Clayton made its own pledge to increase the amount of taxpayer money it throws away on pointless and condescending racial sensitivity training for police officers. All this is bad.

    I am flabbergasted by how much traction this nothingburger of a story has garnered. And I am sure I am not the only member of the community who feels this way.