by SCOTTI MULLEN
Members of the UMW community are troubled by the recent shooting of an unarmed man 20 miles from campus. On April 21, Spotsylvania County resident Isaiah Brown, a 32-year old Black man, was shot 10 times by a Spotsylvania county deputy, according to NBC News and multiple other news outlets. Brown is alive but in critical condition as of April 26.
The UMW NAACP released an official statement on April 23.
“This shooting, having occurred just 20 miles from our campus, is one that cannot be easily overlooked,” as written in the statement. “We have endured constant emotional whiplash as a result of willful negligence and lack of accountability on all fronts. This act of brutality is just one of many that we have witnessed time and again over the course of not only the last few months but also all throughout this country’s 400-year history. So many Black people are in a constant state of mourning, we are numb to the pain.”
A representative from the NAACP was not available to comment in time for publication.
Brown was on a 911 call when the deputy arrived. The body camera footage shows the officer yelling for Brown to put his hands in the air. The officer then mistook the phone Brown was holding as a gun and shoots him.
Reports say that the officer had just driven Brown home about an hour beforehand.
Community members gathered in downtown Fredericksburg to protest Brown’s shooting around 5 p.m. on April 26. They were joined by counter-protesters, police and a news reporter.
Freshman Tabitha Robinson witnessed a part of the protest.
“The air was very charged,” she said. “I felt a little nervous because I wasn’t sure whose side the police were on, and I didn’t want to get caught between anything. Nothing happened while I was there, but I didn’t stay long. I hadn’t heard anything about it beforehand and I haven’t heard anything about it since.”
UMW Chief of Police Micheal Hall stated that his biggest concern is being available to students and being in touch with students’ emotions during this time.
“I think the biggest thing UMW has and will continue to do is patrol our campuses, be visible on campus and look to our community as a shared responsibility for safety,” he said. “When it comes to making someone feel safe, that becomes pragmatic because what your level of comfort is might differ from the next person’s, so we have to find the balance of understanding.”
Vice President of Student Affairs Juliette Landphair spoke on campus safety.
“Safety, of course, is a critical consideration at UMW. The ways in which we reach out to help our community feel more secure take many forms, from broad-based emails to individual well checks. A few of the recent actions included alerting the campus to racial harassment by a community member towards one of our students on campus, taking a stand against AAPI violence (as has been done many times as part of our BLM support), and encouraging self-care and community care and empathy for those most affected by the impact of the Chauvin trial,” she said.