Busted for Blackness at Middlebury

From Village Voice:

Supporters of 21-year-old O’Neil Walker label his predicament a disgraceful case of racial profiling. Just before graduation this spring from Middlebury College in Vermont, the African American senior from the Bronx was thrown out of school for allegedly entering a classmate’s dorm room last winter without permission.
Nothing was taken, and nobody was hurt—except for Walker and his good reputation.

In April, the school held a private hearing and suspended Walker indefinitely for “behavior unbecoming of a Middlebury College student.” In early May, that ruling was upheld by an appeals board. Both hearings were closed to the public. School officials insist that they have strong evidence, but Billy Murphy, a Baltimore lawyer brought into the case by the father of Nolan Weltchek, one of Walker’s classmates, tells the Voice, “It was a kangaroo court. No lawyers were allowed in, and the burden of proof was set very low.”

A last-ditch attempt by Walker to get a court injunction against his suspension failed, and he was left on the outside, looking in.

Last week, while many of Walker’s classmates were heading to beach homes and celebratory trips abroad, Walker was sitting in his mom’s tiny apartment in the Bronx. Hyacinth Newby works as an attendant to the elderly; her son would have been the first in his family with a college degree.

“They threw him out like garbage,” she says. “It really hurts, it’s really painful. I’m proud of my son anyway.”

He still intends to go to law school. Sad, but composed, Walker says, “I just want the degree I’ve put years of work into. That’s the important thing now.”

Read the full story here.

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