When African American professor Antwi Akom drove to San Francisco State University to retrieve a book for his class the next day, he never imagined he would end up behind bars.
Akom, who is 35 and on a tenure track, was arrested and charged with two felonies- resisting arrest and assaulting a police officer- after he was stopped and queried by a security guard around 11 p.m. The incident occurred Tuesday night on the way to his office in the College of Ethnic Studies.
According to the professor and his colleagues, the arrest occurred as Akom left the building to return to his car. They said he was hurrying because his two young children had fallen asleep in the back of the car.
The police report released by the university portrays a different version as told by the security guard and three police officers involved in the incident.
In the San Francisco State Police report, it is alleged Akom would not provide identification to a security guard, and was the aggressor in a struggle that led to one police officer suffering minor injuries and Akom being arrested.
The incident has led the university to call for calm and an external independent review to be headed by former San Francisco mayor Willie Brown and Louise H. Renne, former San Francisco city attorney and president of the SFPD's police commission.
"I have been heartened by the tone of many of the messages from faculty and staff concerning this painful event,'' said SF State President Robert A. Corrigan in a prepared statement released Friday.
Corrigan urged the campus community to avoid "a rush to judgement" and to "await the reviewers' report."
"The very fact that this process is going forward will, I hope, provide reassurance that San Francisco State University remains a safe and supportive environment for all."
Akom was released on his own recognizance Thursday Oct.27 and is expected to return to his teaching duties on Tuesday Nov. 1.
When asked why he would return to school so soon after this incident, University spokesperson Ellen Griffin said, "He is not perceived as a threat, not been convicted of anything, and this has nothing to do with his performance in the classroom."
She also added, "The university appointing an external review team is the smart step to take right now because the situation needs to be examined, the facts, eye witness reports need to be looked at in detail."
Kenneth P. Monteiro, acting dean of the School of Ethnic Studies, talked about the issue at a scheduled meeting Wednesday and urged the university to ask that the charges be dropped.
"(On Tuesday) night there was an altercation between one of our family members and a police officer on this campus," Monteiro told members of the Africana department. He said the department fully supports Akom.
After news of Akom's arrest broke, faculty and students expressed concern that the incident could be a case of racial profiling.
Since his release, supporters said Akom has been instructed by his attorney not to talk to the press.
But following the incident, he was in contact with Matthew Shenoda, an Ethnic Studies lecturer at SF state. Shenoda was called to the scene Tuesday night by Akom to pick the kids up from the scene and has been in touch with Akom since his arrest.
The two gave the following version of events:
At about 11 p.m., a security officer employed by Wackenhut Security confronted Akom and asked him what he was doing on campus, to which he replied he was a professor and was going to his office. While inside, the security guard called a campus officer to come to the location.
"When he came out, there was a white cop to meet him and told him to put his hands behind his back," Shenoda said. He said Akom told him an argument ensued, which turned physical. Two other officers were called to the scene, then handcuffed him and took him to jail.
?The officer didn?t tell him anything. It wasn?t until he was arrested that they told him he had assaulted a police officer,? said Ashley Moore, Akom?s teaching assistant who talked to him multiple times from his cell at county jail.
Two of the officers were black; the other was white, according to the statement released by the university. The white officer suffered minor injuries and was treated at a nearby hospital and released. He apparently was the first to encounter Akom.
In his police statement, the security guard said he was outside the lobby of the psychology building about five feet from the door when Akom walked towards him at a "brisk pace" about five feet from where he was standing.
Akom entered the building and the guard followed and asked the professor, "excuse me, do you work here?" The guard claims Akom then shouted, "Yeah, I work here!" and quickly went to the second floor. The guard said he followed, asking to see Akom's ID.
At that point the guard said he was frightened and went downstairs and called his supervisor who then informed police. The responding officers all acknowledge Akom told them he is a professor at the university.
Akom, a tall, dark skinned man with long dreadlocks, has been teaching at SF State since Aug. 2004. He has no previous record, and according to those who know him, he is extremely calm, patient and good tempered.
"The guy doesn't even have any parking tickets," said Shenoda. "The guy is as clean as it gets."
Don Menn, a journalism lecturer at SF State said that he goes into his office after hours all the time and he has never had a problem.
"I'm at SFSU often until after 11 p.m. and have run into security people and police officers occasionally," he said. "I, the middle-aged white guy, have never been hauled in because of book hunting in my own office. I don't know how this case could have been anything other than racially motivated."
One of Akom's colleagues said he has experienced racial profiling in the past.
Jeannine Villasenor currently works with him at Berkeley High School's Academic Pathways Project, a program Akom co-created to tutor urban youth and help them make a successful transition to college.
She also worked with Akom at the Institute for the Study of Social Change from 1999 to 2004 where Akom was a research fellow. Villasenor said Akom is often the victim of racial profiling.
"Antwi understands that he is often a target of racial profiling and he is overly nice and overly understanding to people who discriminate against him," she said. "He is extremely calm, extremely patient and extremely understanding."
Villasenor said when she and Akom worked at UC Berkeley the police would often give him a hard time for walking on campus.
"When we worked together there this happened to him often. The police would flash their lights on him and ask him what he was doing here," she said. "He has a history of this happening to him for no reason besides him being a young, urban, black man."
Tonight a meeting will be held in order to organize a rally for Professor Akom on Tuesday Nov. 1. The specific room is still to be announced, but it will be held at 7 p.m. in the Cesar Chavez Student Center.
[X]press staff writer and Oakland Tribune correspondant Jessica Jones wrote this story for both publications.