UI professor upset by police visit to his classroom

UI professor upset by police visit to his classroom

URBANA — A hunt for a stolen cellphone at the University of Illinois has triggered a debate about when campus police can enter a classroom.

The Oct. 10 incident has been magnified by tensions over police treatment of minorities across the country as well as racial incidents reported during the presidential campaign and its aftermath.

On Oct. 10, two UI police officers went to an African-American studies class at Lincoln Hall to track down a stolen cellphone they had traced to the classroom.

After speaking with the professor, they talked to his students and found the phone, which had been bought by a student in the class from an individual thought to have stolen it about 10 days earlier. The student was not arrested.

But the professor, Erik McDuffie, was upset that police interrupted his class for a relatively minor incident, saying it created unnecessary fear for him and his students. Given high-profile deaths of black citizens at the hands of police, he said, "lots of people on campus, lots of people of color, are scared."

UI Police Chief Jeff Christensen said officers "very rarely" interrupt a class, but the department is reviewing its policies.

"Generally, we ask officers not to disrupt classrooms. I don't believe that was the officers' intent," Christensen said, noting that the professor allowed them into the room.

The cellphone, which belonged to a UI student and was valued at $850, had been stolen Sept. 29 from a locker room at the Activities and Recreation Center, according to UI police reports.

Police set up a tracker on the phone, and on Oct. 10, the UI's computer-security office informed police that it had been pinged inside Room 1090 at Lincoln Hall, 702 S. Wright St., U.

Officers Chuck Hoskins and Rodney Mitchell went to the class, which was still in session.

Hoskins, who is black, gave this account in his report:

"I made contact with the professor and I explained to him the reason(s) for our presence. He gave us permission and I briefly addressed the class. I introduced myself and explained why I was there.

"I asked aloud, 'Does anyone in here have a gray iPhone 6 Plus in this room?' Two black males (U of I students) in the rear of the classroom raised their hands. When asked, they both complied and stepped out into the hallway to speak with us."

Hoskins said he then compared the serial number on the phones and one matched the stolen phone.

The other UI student was released, but the owner of the stolen phone told police he had bought it for $125 from a man who had come to his fraternity house a week before with two other men.

The student told police, "I knew the cellphone was stolen. I knew it was wrong. I shouldn't have bought it," according to the report. He said he didn't know the full names of the suspects but said one attended Parkland College.

Police seized the stolen phone and later returned it to its owner but didn't arrest the UI student because he told the truth, according to the report.

"I made it clear ... that if I had not believed him, he would have been arrested and criminally charged," Hoskins said in the report.

McDuffie said his first thought when he noticed police outside his door was that something had happened to someone in his family. In 25 years of teaching, he said, police had never showed up at his door.

He said he went out in the hall to talk to them, where the officers introduced themselves and explained why they were there. They asked for permission to enter but also told him they didn't necessarily need permission, he said.

McDuffie said he was uneasy about the request and tried in vain to contact his department head. He decided it would be best to let them in rather than have the police hold everyone after class, which was the other option. He was concerned that students might be late for work or another class, and that having the officers wait outside for another 20 minutes would create even more anxiety.

The class, which has 37 students, covers the history of 20th-century black women's activism and deals with race, crime and justice. On that day, he was lecturing about black men who'd been framed for raping white women in the 1950s.

"The incident terrified me and it terrified my students," he said.

Some students told McDuffie they feared the police were coming for him because of his political activism on campus. Others, black and white, were also shocked that two police would come to a classroom just for a stolen cellphone, he said.

McDuffie said the two officers involved acted professionally, noting they didn't arrest or handcuff the students.

"What troubled me is that they didn't seem to understand why I was so uncomfortable about what happened. They did not seem to appreciate the kind of racial dynamics of the incident," he said.

He said he had an "intense" 10-minute discussion with the two officers afterward. Both were surprised and insisted they were simply answering a call and race had nothing to do with it, he said.

In a supplementary report, Hoskins said McDuffie was present while he spoke with the student, who told the officer he did not feel "disrespected or stereotyped as a criminal."

Hoskins said McDuffie never acknowledged that the student had done anything wrong, acting as though "the situation had no real victim." Hoskins said he told McDuffie that police "did not just randomly appear and systematically target (the student). This was not a conspiracy by THE MAN."

"This is not a philosophical or an academic debate. We live in the real world" and the student needed to learn to take personal responsibility, he said.

Hoskins said the class had students from many ethnic backgrounds and police had no way of knowing who had the stolen phone. He said McDuffie has "turned a minor situation into something more than it is."

As a black man, Hoskins said he is sensitive to stereotype that "all black males are criminals and dishonest. I know this is not true," he said, adding that he has also been called "sellout" and "Uncle Tom" because he is a police officer.

"My character is strong and I am committed to actionable, fair and just community policing," he wrote in the report. "I don't have a Ph.D., numerous academic accolades and I have never written a book, but I do have common sense and a strong sense of what is right."

McDuffie declined to say how he thought police should have handled the matter, but added, "I don't think police should come into the classroom for non-emergency reasons."

"If there's a hostage situation, a life-threatening situation," that's one thing, he said, but not for a minor crime.

“The question folks are asking is, ‘When, why and how do police enter classrooms?’” McDuffie said.

Christensen said the department already follows "best practices" but is examining what other Big Ten schools do to possibly fine-tune those policies and make sure "they continue to be the best."

"We give our officers pretty good guidelines. We don't interrupt classes. We don't want to be doing that," Christensen said.

Christensen has since met with McDuffie, and said he felt their talk was "productive."

"We will move forward," he said. "We'll sort this out."

Chancellor Robert Jones declined to comment on the incident, saying he hasn’t had a chance to review the police reports.

“All I know is, regardless of what the intention was, the perception based on what we heard is somewhat problematic,” Jones said.

But he said Christensen is “very open” to improving interactions between police and students and faculty. Jones said he talked with the chief when he first arrived on campus about reviewing best practices.

“He explained to me very clearly his commitment to community policing and being the best of the best in this regard,” he said. “We just have to utilize this as an opportunity to take a step back, look at our practices and see if there’s some things we could do differently."

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tarlos25 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 7:12 am

Theft is not a minor crime.  This situation absolutely does have a real victim, the person who legitimately paid for the phone.  The professor's attitude is highly offensive, and frankly the student who knowingly bought stolen property should have been charged.  He was let off with little more than a slap on the wrist.  I'm hoping he learns from this, but I'm afraid that like so many other criminals who don't get appropriately punished, he will simply revert to more crime.  And yes, this student is a criminal.  Knowingly purchasing stolen property is a crime.  End of discussion.

Marty wrote on December 06, 2016 at 10:12 am

I can see how he might be worried if he was pulled over by a cop at night, who knows, the cop might be white, or hispanic. But, to be "terrified" when two cops enter a U of I classroom he is in, filled with students is either absurd or a lie.

I hope he never has to deal with anything to harsh. I bet he doesn't go to the football games where all those whites and blacks riot against each other on the field over a ball.

annabellissimo wrote on December 09, 2016 at 2:12 am

tarlos25: Well written, well expressed and I agree 100%. It seems very straightforward common sense. However, many things for which there was social consensus and that were once considered "societal good", such as social acceptance of law-abiding citizens and social rejection of criminals, are being upended. Those who are actively working to upend and overturn the aspects of a civil society that have helped make this country stable, as safe as possible, and adhering to that ideal of being "a nation of laws" are working against America and they are, by definition, un-American. It is an insidious kind of terrorism that intimidates witnesses, broadly advocates resisting (at very least) police, even advocating harm to police or white people, tolerates a level of criminal or anti-social behavior in a large stratum of a specific demographic, and endorses reducing (at very least) incarceration of black people based on unfounded, inflated claims of "mass incarceration", based solely on racial bases These anti-social, un-American attitudes that are being endorsed at the highest levels of (political) life are part of the angst in America. Many Americans see lies promoted as truths and see dangerous, criminal behavior promoted as "protest" or "justice." Many Americans see crime being tolerated or even extolled, whether at the highest levels or on the street, or see it go un-punished or superficially punished and they are angry. All Americans are in a terrible situation now because of a few "bad apples" and a lot of opportunists eager to exploit that so that police are in a terrible dilemma, loud-mouthed bullies that don't have the general good at heart are calling the shots, the loss of some lives get front-page relentless anger coverage if it’s a black person killed by a white police person, while the loss of other lives (700 on Chicago's streets, police in every town in America, neglected and abused children everywhere in America with no real family or upbringing) is treated as negligible - as "collateral damage" to use that ugly expression - subordinate to the constant litany of claims that ALL police are a threat to ALL black people ALL the time - claims that are guiding policy and security and the law enforcement and judicial systems, public discourse - everything - and they are claims without proof or merit or truth. These attitudes are endangering everybody, of all “colors”, and degrading the quality of life in America for everybody, and cheapening the long-held principles and values held around crime/morality/decency/social responsibility. This instance of the professor/the police/the theft/the classroom at the U of I is yet another opportunity for yet another opportunist - this delicate, "outraged" professor - to make claims and arouse loud voices and get lots of press coverage. And for what? For any public good? For any justice? For any moral truth? For his own self-promotion is my guess. Who contacted the press? Was it the professor?

cwdog57 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 7:12 am

i understand completely the fright this professor and students may have felt but.............after all if you were the victim of a crime i doubt that you would want to hear a police officer tell you that the perpetrator of the crime has been located inside an ongoing class and it's a violation to enter to detain the perp. Albeit theft ,rape or murder. where would it stop? i guess theft is not a serious enough crime. i think this is just the tip of the iceberg for the college and the thief.

annabellissimo wrote on December 09, 2016 at 2:12 am

cwdog57: You wrote, "i understand completely the fright this professor and students may have felt but............." and yes, most people experience fear or anxiety when approached by the police. When you see police flashing lights behind your car or if a police officer stops you on the street. However, I would contend that most people would go to an immediate "anxiety moment" with "What did I do wrong? What have I done?" However, this professor, or some of the posters here with attitudes seen/heard in the news in recent years, seem to go to a knee-jerk response of "What the police did wrong, how they mis-treated me, the police are at fault....." It's an extremely different set of perspectives - to be nervous, feel anxious and uncertain, to question one's self versus automatic reactions of hatred, un-cooperation, anger, contempt, confrontation all directed at the police.

ForReal wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 am

Maybe this professor can take his class to the "safe space" on campus? God forbid the police try and enforce the law in this professor's classroom! Maybe this professor should teach students about the role of law enforcement and how to properly interact with law enforcement so that his students can stop being afraid at the mere sight of police. 


constantly amazed wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 am

Not a serious crime? It says the phone was worth $850 and stolen from a campus building, that would appear to make it a Class 2 felony.

(720 ILCS 5/16-1) (from Ch. 38, par. 16-1)

Sec. 16-1. Theft.

(a) A person commits theft when he or she knowingly:

(4) Obtains control over stolen property knowing the property to have been stolen or under such circumstances as would reasonably induce him or her to believe that the property was stolen; or

(b) Sentence.

(4.1) Theft of property from the person not exceeding $500 in value, or theft of property exceeding $500 and not exceeding $10,000 in value, is a Class 2 felony if the theft was committed in a school or place of worship or if the theft was of governmental property.

ohnoes wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

I had a student taken out of a classroom at Parkland years ago over some stolen video projectors.  As I recall he was white.

IlliniwekMerica wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

Exactly. It was felony theft. If it was my phone, I would be very appreciative that the cops went through a minor disturbance of class to get it back.

Take a step back and look at the non-emotional parts of the event.

  • 2 cops show up to a class, ask the professor if they could address the class quickly about a stolen phone (seems like they were polite to the professor),
  • took 2 students out in the hall and talked to them
  • got the phone back, no one was arrested/ charged/ really hassled at all, then it was over. 

If this is the kind of event that makes a person feel uncomfortable to the point of being "scared", then the professor shouldn't have even left his house that morning.

100% agree with the cops, "This is not a philosophical or an academic debate. We live in the real world". I can't believe anyone is even giving this event a second thought.

Joe American wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

Oh, did a naughty police officer violate his safe space?

Suck it up, snowflakes.

uncommon_name wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

Finally, a professor is put in a position to actually use what he has spent his whole life studying This had to have been a big day for him.

AltoonaSue wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

More proof that we are truly living in a post-truth society. The fact is that a crime had been committed, but apparently that doesn't matter--it's about the "perception." Once again, I am so glad I stopped donating to this university.

illinirazorback wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 am

This might be the most ridiculous thing I've read all month.

I don't think you could have handled it any better if you were the police.  They were investigating a crime.  They got permission, and didn't even arrest the kid even though they could have, because he ADMITTED to having stolen property.  What the hell other type of interaction would he want his students to have with police?  One of the two cops was even black!

Pretty clear-cut case of the professor realizing after-the-fact that he could get some play and sympathy for this interaction.  Nobody heard of him before this, now his picture is on the front page of the News Gazette.

Way to play up the anti-police enviornment with a complete non-story.  This is a model for how things should be handled, not the terroristic event this guy wants us to believe.

End rant.

stingray1970 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 11:12 am
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Thank your lucky stars that everyone came out of this ordeal in one piece!

JohnQPublic1 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 1:12 pm

Why is this even news????????   Why news gazette is this even news? It's stoking the fires unecessarily.  


The officer investigating was black.   


What in the heck is going on around here?  Police did their job.  


So so how do you find a cellphone via gps when the class ends and everyone is leaving.  The GPS tracking isn't precise into inches......it's several meters.   So what, you wait till class is over and detain everyone?  Isn't that an arrest.  The police did awesome and what I expect if I was a victim of a crime! 

what are we paying taxes for? If it's an all white class is it okay then to disrupt it then? 


The professor looks foolish and so do people who report this.   


DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 1:12 pm
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Everyone in this thread has missed a great takeaway from this story. Black people everywhere are terrified of the police, no matter where they are and what the situation is, even if the police are there to actually do their job on the rare occasion. Police routinely shoot black people for much less than a stolen phone. The first example that comes to mind is the unarmed doctor in Florida that was trying to interpret to the police that his patient was mentally ill while also asserting that neither one of them had a weapon. The police shot him anyway. 

Being black in this country is a scary experience. If you aren't black then you just won't understand and you also have no credibility to say otherwise. This professor and all of his students have every right to be scared at the sight of police. As does anyone else. Police forces in this country are no longer here to protect or serve. They are here to generate revenue and breed militarized yes men. You don't have to have any more qualifications to become a police officer than you do to become a porta-potty technician. Police departments have historically been safe havens for racists and sociopaths - and they protect each other at all cost to defend their slimy blue shield.  

Always film the police when you are near them or in an encounter with them. Good dash-cams are somewhat affordable and can stream video to a cloud so that the police can't use the old 'audio/video malfunctioned when our officer acted inappropriately' line a la the Dracy Pendleton case. It is an institution within police departments to plant evidence and lie on police reports. New technology makes it harder for them to do so. 


illinirazorback wrote on December 06, 2016 at 1:12 pm

I don't think anyone in this thread (with a brain) will deny that there are a few bad cops out there who have done very bad things.

This is not one of those cases.

This is an example of police acting properly, and should have been a great teachable moment to this class on how many police are properly executing their jobs.  Theoretically, it should also be a reminder not to buy property you know was stolen.

Instead, this professor taught his class to fear police even in the most trivial situations, which leads to greater and unnecessary angst within both the black and police communities.

We should all fight racism by police when we see it.  We should also not create false accusations of racism and police brutality when it quite clearly did not occur here.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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Why should the professor have taken even more time out of his class that was already unnecessarily interrupted to teach the class a lesson on how the cops were merely doing their job? They don't deserve any attention or extra credit for tracking down a stolen phone. Should they get a parade too? This could have been taken care of after class when it wouldn't have interrupted something much more important than a non-violent, non-emergency, petty crime. 

It is absurd that anyone thinks these guys deserve anything at all for doing their job. Does your boss stop production at work every time you complete a task that you are expected to complete as part of your job? Of course not. 

If there is any lesson that needs to be taught it is that the police are not above the law and need to go through extensive training in effectively working within the public, among other things. The bully-your-way-around tactic will get called out every time in this day and age. Just like it did here. 


Edit: The 'few bad cops/bad apples' routine is tired. It has been painfully evident that the core values of today's police officers are not to protect and serve but to extort and arrest/assault/kill. 

rsp wrote on December 06, 2016 at 11:12 pm

Because the taxpayers pay the police to stand outside the door for twenty minutes till class gets over to ask about a cell phone? So they should detain everyone there after class to ask about it? Since when is knocking on a door and asking permission to talk to the people inside bullying?

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am
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Do the taxpayers pay the police to stay and teach a lesson on how good police work is done every time they recover a stolen item like the boot lickers are advocating for? No. 

I am a taxpayer. I am forced by the government to pay these crooks to extort me even further. I would prefer my money go towards competent policing practices that would include not interrupting people for non-emergency situations. 

Tom Napier wrote on December 06, 2016 at 3:12 pm

"Being black in this country is a scary experience. If you aren't black then you just won't understand and you also have no credibility to say otherwise."

Are you black?  Are you a University of Illinois student; faculty or staff? Alumnus/alunma? A resident of the Champaign-Urbana region? Otherwise associated with the University Illinois community? 

These are honest questions.  I'm trying to understand your perspective in writing comments.  That's the only reason I'm asking.  Nothing more, nothing less.

JamBam wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

It's not the police's fault that the overwhelming amount of crime (relative to population) is committed by blacks.  Should the police not enforce the law when it pertains to black people? That seems to be what you are implying Mr. Ammons.  

We have 5% of the population (black males ages 14-40) committing > 50% of murders & robberies in this country.  Most of those crimes are against people of their own race.

And you want this race of people, to be distrusting the cops that investigate these crimes? To be afraid of the police, when it's their own neighbors  doing the most harm to them?  You kidding me?  Blacks should not be afraid of the police. Especially other black cops.  Blacks need to be afraid of those most likely to due harm to them - and that's another black civilian.  Those are the facts.

Cops shooting blacks unprovoked are such isolated incidents that it barely registers on the radar, especially given the amount of police interactions that black people have given their crime rate.  Blacks get shot less often than whites, despite a higher frequency of police interactions.  Even still, police shootings are rare regardless of race.

We need to support law and order. Support the police.  They are trying to protect you from the thugs out there. Why side with thugs?  Do you want chaos in your community?  Violence?  A free for all?  This is bizarre thinking.  



DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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Your commentary is outright racist. I hope you are banned for it. 

The police are the thugs. I will not support them. My family does not support them. My children do not support them. Nobody in my neighborhood trusts or supports them. The only people I know that speak like you are the low IQ losers that still say MURICA and think it's cute. The absolute worst kind of people. 

I'd like to see your browser history. You seem to have some inferiority issues yourself. 


rsp wrote on December 07, 2016 at 12:12 am

Blacks get shot less often than whites, despite a higher frequency of police interactions.  Even still, police shootings are rare regardless of race.

Think of it like Russian Roulette. Would you play? Flashing red lights behind you, can't think of anything you did, looks like it's that one cop, you know, the one with the short fuse...wanna play?

Blacks should not be afraid of the police. Especially other black cops.

I got stopped a few blocks from my house by a black cop with my kids in the car, because we were the wrong color for the neighborhood. He wanted to know why we were there.

My son quit a job to stop having a female officer harass him. He was in the "wrong" neighborhood.

rsp wrote on December 06, 2016 at 11:12 pm

You don't have to have any more qualifications to become a police officer than you do to become a porta-potty technician.

There are a lot of qualifications to being a police officer.

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 9:12 am
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I didn't say you don't have to have any qualifications. I said the qualifications are too low. Here is a link to the application for a Champaign police officer. You'll notice the qualifications for the job are no higher than any other job you've ever applied for. I was required to prove more competence to get a job detasseling corn at age 13. 



annabellissimo wrote on December 09, 2016 at 2:12 am

You sound like a miserable, angry, bitter, paranoid and, frankly, dangerous mentality. I have been reading what you and others have written here and wondering if you are a "troll' because your comments are relentlessly provocative, inflammatory, insulting and hyperbolic. What you appear to be dedicated to advocating is the destruction of law and order, of stability and safety in America and of the tolerance of actual crime, while falsely labeling all police activity in outlaw terms requiring anti-social resistance. Yours is a terrorist mentality that represents a danger to society. Someone called you "Mr. Ammons." If you are that elected official with your attitudes, that is very disturbing. Whether you are that person or not, what you are advocating and claiming would hasten America's already rapid decline to third-world, despotic, venal, corrupt lawlessness. Maybe that's your desire. Who do YOU call if you are robbed or assaulted? Do you berate, insult and attack the police if they come to your aid? They do come to the aid of those in need, even vile hate-mongers. I can't imagine the kind of fortitude it must take to be a police officer and have to help/talk to/listen to the kinds of people "out there", people spewing garbage right and left. They are far more "qualified" to do their jobs than you are to be an American citizen, that much is quite clear. Your insults and ugly verbiage are disgusting; such lies. Maybe you're behind bars and can exercise your bile here and you're full of hate for the police because you're behind bars. Or if you are that elected official another poster named, you have been behind bars but got special dispensation regardless of felon status, and then got elected by those who think that felons represent them.

Why blog wrote on December 06, 2016 at 2:12 pm


davidpettigrew32@gmail.com wrote on December 06, 2016 at 2:12 pm

To Tartlos25,

You are white and without college degree, aren't you? That is the reason you don't see anything wrong with that picture.

I am a  minority about to graduate from UIUC. I wouldn't apprecite it if any one of my classes is interrupted by the police to investigate a pitty crime. My credit hour at UIUC costs more than that phone.

JamBam wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Your credit hour is accumulated over an entire semester.  This was one day, one class.  $850 item - and they've found the phone - yes the police better confiscate it.  Are the police supposed to simply wait outside for the class to get over with?  They have work to do to.  Again, blaming the police, for simply doing their jobs.  It's ridiculous.

If you don't want the police to interrupt your class time, don't buy a stolen Iphone. I have to question the intellect of these students to begin with.  How did they get into U of I?  They didn't realize an Iphone has a tracker on it?   Really?  

leftylib wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Idk what race Tartlos 25 is or if he has a college degree.  Don't care and doesn't matter.

But, if you are going to proclaim educational superiority because Tartlos25 doesn't have a college degree and you soon will, it may be in your best interest to use proper grammar (?apprecite?, ?pitty?).  It can't be that hard, Tartlos doesn't seem to have a problem putting together some sentences without spelling errors.   A few more credit hours in English may be worthwhile. 

tarlos25 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 7:12 pm

Any chance you'd care to explain the basis your assumption?  I have a Master's degree in engineering.  I chose to not pursue a Ph.D. because I was ready to start working full time.  The cost of a few minutes of class time is actually fairly low overall (as implied by JamBam previously), and can easily be recovered by time spent with the professor outside of class.  As for my ethnic background, it's mixed.  I've got slave blood and Native American in me, along with some unknown entities.  The only race with which I choose to identify is human, because that's the one that matters.

This was not a petty crime.  This was theft.  Would you appreciate if someone stole your smartphone or computer?  What if the police chose not to investigate the crime you reported?  I think you fail to comprehend the severity of the crime in question.  Yes, there is an intrinsic value to the device (accounting for the fact that it is no longer new, it won't be the full value).  However, the data on that device is also very valuable.  The victim needs to watch for potential identity theft and other related data crimes.  That impact to the victim's life will be very significant.  I can attest to this from experience, I was impacted by identity theft at one point in my life, and it took years to recover from that.

If I were a student in that class, there are several things I would be feeling.  Primarily, I would be feeling pride that the police were actually able to recover stolen property.  I would ask the professor to use this as a lesson to aid the class, in seeing a real-life example of how law enforcement frequently makes exceptions to allow people second chances.  This makes a very good counterpoint to the violence we are seeing.  A single act of police brutality is likely to get national attention.  But it takes thousands or more acts of police kindness to get significant attention.  And frankly, most are ignored anyway.  Additionally, I would feel more secure in knowing that the police force to which I'm entrusting my safety is actually doing their job.

Was there reason to be afraid?  Probably at first, when there were police officers standing outside the classroom with unknown intent.  However, based on the information presented in the article here, that fear should have vanished upon talking with the officers.  Based on the article, everything in this situation was handled efficiently and professionally.

Two final points.  If you're going to try to insult someone, at least spell their name (or internet handle in this case) correctly.  And I highly encourage you not to have your email address as your display name.  You're making yourself unnecessarily vulnerable to quite a few scams and other crimes.  These crimes may be petty to you, but once you've experienced them, they won't be petty any more.  Trust me on this one.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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Nobody is trusting you on anything. There's nothing to be proud of. There's nothing to celebrate. The cops did a substandard job at retrieving a phone. Woo hoo!

Khristine wrote on December 06, 2016 at 2:12 pm
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My iPhone 6 Plus cost $900. and I have purchased it on a payment plan through my cell phone carrier. The loss of a $900. phone is not insignificant. This professor is making a mountain out of a mole hill. Police can't tippy-toe through every crime just because one hyper-sensitive professor might get his unders in a bunch and whine to the local news paper. 

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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It's a phone. If it is lost or stolen that does not constitute an emergency. If my phone was found after being stolen I would ask that they not go interrupt someone's education to retrieve it. It could wait. 

Your Facebook and selfies aren't that important. 

teacherofmath wrote on December 06, 2016 at 2:12 pm

I teach classes on the University of Illinois campus.  I appreciate everything that the campus police officers do to protect our safety, and certainly they should follow up on retrieving stolen property; I don't think that anyone would disagree.  However, I do not think that campus police should interrupt classes for any reason other than an emergency.  It would upset me a lot if campus police interrupted my class in order to look for a stolen cell phone.

JamBam wrote on December 06, 2016 at 3:12 pm

Recovering a stolen item worth $850 is more important than any lecture.  As the cop said, this is the real world. Recovery of a valuable item is worth way more than any teacher's time.   

How can this teacher even be upset?  The cop let this student off and didn't even arrest him, even though he clearly and knowingly possessed stolen property.  I hope the student at least makes sure he identifies the robbers that he bought the phone off of.    




rsp wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

What if the phone was from a rape victim? A murder victim and in either case they had reason to believe the person who had the phone was the suspect or could lead them to the suspect. Still feel the same way? We have a lot of muggings on campus and a lot of foolish people buying the stolen property because it's cheap. All on campus. This young man buying that phone is helping to create an unsafe enviroment where someone else will get hurt. Someone wants something cheap and someone wants quick money. You don't want to be bothered.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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It wasn't. Your hypothetical projections are just that - hypothetical. The cops didn't need to interrupt class, plain and simple. It was not an emergency. 

Why blog wrote on December 06, 2016 at 3:12 pm

I don't know where this Professor has been the last few years in this community. There is an ongoing epidemic of gun violence and it aint cops shooting black people. Its young black men shooting other young black men and innocent bystanders. We can argue all day long about the relationship of Police within the black community or lack there of in other places, but you cannot escape the obvious threat right here in our community. Is he not afraid of this REAL element??? Where is his expression of fear and terror regarding this FACT. If he can sit in front of a class and "teach" them to fear Police without teaching them to fear this epidemic then he is crippling the minds of those he is being paid to stimulate.

How can you focus on the law enforcement aspect yet yet ignore the aspect of community violence that happens at a much higher rate? Especially in THIS community. I emphasize "THIS" because our community should be our focus. We need to take a look at what is taking place in our community FIRST and do what we have to ensure we have a better relationship with our Police here. Let the other communities do the same. Pointing fingers and promoting fear will never solve anything, it never has. It just widens the gap between understanding and paranoia. We have an opportunity to prevent questionable police shootings in our own community BEFORE they happen but we would rather argue over stupid stuff like this Professor's gross exaggeration of fear and terror from officers he identified as conducting themselves in a professional manner.

You can hate cops all you want. At the end of the day, when gunshots are being fired in our community and young people die, Cops are the ones going towards he danger, picking up the dead bodies, and doing CPR before the medics get there to save them. Where are the rest of you when this happens??? Hiding under a bed or running. The shooters are running because they know cops are coming. You get the point. People love to talk about violence yet cower at every opportunity to help prevent it.

Should black people, in general, be more afraid of the police in THIS community, or other young black men?... The overwhelming majority of confirmed shooters in this community are not the cops. It speaks for itself. You cannot argue with the hard truth and I am speaking in terms of what is happening every other day in THIS community. To all of you think like this professor: IF YOU ARE NOT ADDRESSING THE REAL AND OBVIOUS SAFETY CONCERNS OF BLACK PEOPLE WHO LIVE IN THIS COMMUNITY, YOU SHOULD BE ASHAMED TO SPEAK ON THE POTENTIAL FOR A DEADLY SHOOTING TO HAPPEN TO BLACK FOLKS AT THE HANDS OF THE POLICE. DO YOU REALLY CARE? OR DOES IT ONLY MATTER IF WHEN A COP IS INVOLVED. THAT IS THE IMPRESSION YOU LEAVE, LIKE IT OR NOT...

I am not ignorant to the reality of questionable police shooings in this country. However, I am not ignorant to the fact that police critics discriminate against all police. Is this not what they complain about??? Police profiling all young black men as dangerous??? You simply cannot lump all members of a group in the same category while complaining about being lumped into the same category. It's called hypocrisy people. He should have asked the Officers to come back to the class on another date and time to interact with his class and give them the opportunity to ask questions for themselves and formulate their own opinions. Instead, he chose to instill fear and restrict dialogue. He blew the opportunity for a quality teachable moment.

Before you get mad at my comment, I ask that you take a look at all of our confirmed shootings and homicides related to gun violence right here in Champaign, County. After you do your research, you will see OUR cops arent killing people.



JamBam wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Well said.  Only in the backwards counter culture of Black America can an article like this even be written with a straight face.

Here we have a BLACK COP, investigating BLACK STUDENTS,  who bought a stolen phone from almost assuredly BLACK CRIMINALS (they said they bought it from guys that showed up at their frat house - assuming a black frat).  And we have a BLACK TEACHER, taking offense at what to the rest of civilized society is NORMAL police work.    Not only that, but the student was not even arrested even though they knowingly possessed stolen goods.  

This is absurdity.  

New-Gazette is going to be out of business soon if they keep writing these articles.  No one wants to pay to read this nonsense. 

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm
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Lol, if you wonder why nobody ever takes you seriously on these message boards this is a great example as to why. You clearly have a problem with black people and black culture and you are always leading the charge against black people standing up for themselves. 

Thank you for being so outward with your racism though. Making yourself this visiable makes it easier for me to add you to the 'Do not feed the racist troll' list right next to Tom. 

capt80 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Out of ideas?? Call RACIST!! You go there EVERY TIME.

Speaking of not being taken seriously, you're leading the pack by miles.

You're a joke.

CallSaul wrote on December 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Calling racist comments racist is not a sign of being out of ideas. Refusing to acknowledge, however, that racist comments are indeed racist sure is, on the other hand, a sign of something quite obvious to everyone who sees reactions like yours.


uncommon_name wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

I notice donottread and callsaul are always there to defend each other in pretty short order. Makes one wonder if it's the same person. Just an observation, now back to the theatrics.

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

It's just the hive mind throwing you off

CallSaul wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm

I think DNT and I have only responded to each others' comments a few times. Can you cite all the times we've 'always' defended each other?

How many digits do you need to account for the set?

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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"Hey, look at those weenies over there sticking up for the colored people! Let's pick on them too!"

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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You'll notice I only call someone a racist when they say something racist. Please go back and read instead of shouting a knee jerk reaction. Sounds like you've got some feelings that might echo some of the other neanderthals in here. Move along. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 9:12 am

I will disagree with you there.....read below for proof

Why blog wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm

All races of people commit crimes on campus, literally all of them. It's not just the black kids.

Why blog wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm

All races of people commit crimes on campus, literally all of them. It's not just the black kids.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm
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So to summarize we should be scared of black people and blindly worship the police? 

I think your caps lock got stuck there for a while. Or were you actually screaming while you were typing that, lol? I can see you standing there pounding away at your keyboard, screaming and adjusting your hood every few seconds. Very entertaining. 

Why blog wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm

No, your summary is very incomplete. I'm simply saying this, people are quick to judge cops in other cities for shooting incidents that involve black people but the same people have nothing to say about the violence right outside their own window. There is an opportunity for smart people to do something about both dynamics but you only want to focus on what's not happening here in this community and ignore what is. Our young men are shooting each other frequently here and it's hard to tell we really care. I can't do anything about other cities and neither can you. But, we can both do something about it here in our twin Cities. When you talk about taking action to do something positive, nobody wants to hear you or get involved. Our community suffers because we always leave it up to somebody else to fix our problems for us. History has shown us all how well that works. So hate me all you want. I'm not making any of this up. If you live in this town. You know what I'm saying is true.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm
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Why are you chosing to lump the two problems together? Street crime and institutional racism are two completely separate conversations and you are placing all of the blame on ALL blacks. I don't hate you. I just don't understand why you're so quick to tell us to be scared of an entire race of people based on the crimes of a few.

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

You are placing all the blame on ALL cops. I don't hate you either. I just don't understand why you're so quick to tell us to be scared of an entire profession based on the crimes of a few, a few that aren't even in this town.

All Why Blog is saying it that in this community, a young black person is statistically more likely to be shot by another young black person. Not by a white person and not by police.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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Apples and oranges.

One is a race. You are born that way and it's who you are. There is nothing inherently wrong with being black. There is no basis for projecting any stereotype on an entire race of people.

The other is a profession by choice. You choose to extort your fellow citizens with citations over petty 'offenses'. You choose to selectively enforce the law regardless if it violates others' rights. There is absolutely a basis to stereotype an entire profession when it has a long, well documented history of institutional racisim, human rights violations and severe corruption at every level of the profession. 

When you choose to join a brotherhood of corruption then you lose any credibility and the ability to be trusted. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Way to ignore the second part......the pertinent part about what is really a problem here. Oh wait, maybe I'm a conspiring cop

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 7:12 am
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Where did you get your statistics for your study on the likelihoods of black people being shot? I didn't respond to your claim because it is baseless. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am

Well lets see...... I took the number of young black people shot in this community by other young people and compared it to the number of young black people shot by any other group. Go ahead and check for yourself. You are either being intentionally obtuse or are simply in denial. Calling something baseless does not in fact make it so.

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am
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Where did you get those numbers? Are you keeping tally on a chalkboard at home?

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am

That's right. Keep deflecting. Maybe if no one talks about it directly it will go away on its own.

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 9:12 am
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You are the only one deflecting. I'm asking you to prove your baseless claims. 

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

Unless of course its your phone and then you would be screaming bloody murder as to why the police were not doing anything.


Snowflakes.  Start your own commune somewhere...............

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm
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Not at all. It's a phone. Life goes on. 

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm

So a grandmothers ring  that is stolen is 'just a ring".


I do hope you never call the cops for anything.  You already say that you will not call if someone elses life is in danger.   


it is good that you are not dependant on others.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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No, I would not call the police about my grandmother's stolen ring. I won't call the police for anything, ever, as long as they aren't required to pass minumum hiring standards, psychological evaluation and an IQ test. I do trust our firefighters, paramedics and EMT's however. They are actually trained to deal with a crisis and don't have inferiority complexes that require them to walk around in military gear all the time. They actually care about helping people unlike police officers who only care about extorting you and flexing their invisible authority. 

LocalEMT wrote on December 08, 2016 at 9:12 am

Hi everyone, I just decided to make an account so that I could chime in really quick. I've been an EMT in the area for a while now and we routinely go on calls with the police. The reason for this is because the police go before us in order to make sure the scene is safe for us. If it is not safe, they will secure it so that it is safe. I have NEVER worked with a police officer who has shown any form of racism, extortion, or inferiority complex in any way. We also speak to police outside of going on calls with us, and I commonly hear about how they only want to help their community and it hurts that they are seen in a negative light for wanting to do so based on what the media chooses to show vs. what the majority of situations actually present. We all understand that there is such thing as corruption and poor policing in the world, but if we are strictly speaking of our community here then my only addition to the conversation is that the police only want to help our community. It does not matter what the race or background of the person is, they care about safety and not superiority despite what others think of them. 

DoNotTread wrote on December 08, 2016 at 2:12 pm
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As much as I enjoy a feel-good story about all our local public servants being perfect humans and how none of them hold any prejudice, the facts are against you. There have been several high profile cases involving racial profiling and abuse of power in our community, including violent racist officer Matt Rush, the murder of Kiwane Carrington, the vicious beating of Brian Chelsey, the tortures at the Champaign Country jail, arresting black activists for merely filming the police and a long, long list of other racial indiscretions.

The police in the cities of Champaign and Urbana, U of I PD, Mahomet PD and Champaign County Sheriff's department have all been accused of racial profiling, abuse of power and corruption in thousands of different interactions and it continues to be a serious issue.

I apologize if I come off as insensitive but I find it hard to take your post very sincerely. The picture you paint of the police officers in this area just isn't realistic. How do I know, right? Because I have been on the other end of those ineractions here at home. I've been to Mahomet in a car full of black people that got pulled over by a white cop for no reason at all and the entire car was emptied onto the shoulder of the road to be questioned and intimidated only to be sent along with no citations. I've been on the sidewalk watching as three white U of I police officers had a black kid with his hands secured behind his back and their knees in his back continue to deliver blows to his head with their flashlights yelling at him to 'stop resisting!' I've been at a park playing basketball where there were only black people and a pair of white Champaign police officers roll up asking questions about somebody that nobody there knows and proceed to make everyone produce their ID and run everyone's name through the system, directly violating the 4th amendment. 

These are just the personal experiences of one person. I can't imagine you'd be singing the same tune if you were in the same types of situations as the people you are accusing of lying about being profiled.

You either aren't a real EMT in this community or you have got one heck of a set of blinders on.


abc123 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 4:12 pm


Voice of Reazon wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm

My white privilege makes it impossible for me to understand how a college student could be "terrified" by a couple of cops entering a college classroom, except, of course, for those students in possession of stolen property or illegal drugs.

The old saw is that, to a hammer, everything looks like a nail.  If you are a professional in the racism business (like this guy, Sunjay whoever and Ammons), apparently everything smacks of racism.

Newsflash:  I am not concerned with being labeled a racist by a racist (yes, a minority who judges people and circumstances mainly on the criterion of race is a racist).  Get over yourself already and teach your kids something of value (how to respect and get along with public servants would be a great topic to start with).


DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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Racists have a newfound courage to say racist things in public forums now that their White Knight stole the election on the Ethno-nationalist ticket. I've noticed that racists have been proclaiming loudly since the election that they don't care if people call them racist. 

I teach my kids to take care of their fellow humans and be respectful of everyone, not just white-christian-conservative-American-males. Funny how all you guys only speak up when you have other racists in your corner. None of you ever reply on the other threads when you are called out unless you have a gaggle of white hooded, like minded bigots to pat you on the back. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 10:12 pm

Respectful of all non-police anyway, right. Make sure your kids fear cops from the get go.....that will surely improve their lives. Where can we send the parent of the year award?

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 7:12 am
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We respect anyone who respects us and others, which does not include the police. The golden rule is an important one. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am

The police are disrespecting you by being police? Do you even hear yourself?

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am
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Yes. By signing up to be a police officer you are signing up to screw over your fellow citizen and signing up to be a leech to the taxpayers. I consider that disrespect. 

billbtri5 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm

let's see..police found the stolen phone and the person admitted he know it was stolen, was possibly stealing the phone "service".  and police did nothing... why bother?   based on that it was just harassment,  not law enforcement....

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 5:12 pm
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Good point. All of these folks pounding their chest about respecting law and order yet nobody is upset that law and order wasn't served. If a crime was committed to warrant their interruption of class why didn't the police arrest him? 

What a joke. 

Cuthbert J. Twillie wrote on December 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm

you would complain if they did arrest him.

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

You complain about the cost of imprisonment over a phone......You complain about cutting him a break for owning up to it.......You complain about cops because they are all racist and evil and clearly not trained to some standard that you find acceptable, but yet they found the phone they were looking for, recovered the property and managed not to shoot anyone. Maybe you need them to come give you a hug.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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You and Cuthbert must be drinking from the same whiskey jar tonight. I was being facetious. I was also pointing out the hypocrisy in all of you patting these creeps in blue on the back for thwarting a deadly cell phone heist even though they didn't even follow the law themselves. 

The fact that the police tracked down this cell phone is wildly unimpressive. I can't understand why all you fuddy duddiies are jumping out of your chair in excitement over the simple use of GPS tracking that exists in every cell phone on the planet. I am not joking in any form when I tell you a kindergarden student could definitely have done the same exact tracking that these boneheads did. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

They got the phone back didn't they

abc123 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 7:12 pm


Rocky7 wrote on December 06, 2016 at 6:12 pm

Why does everything on campus and this and other newspapers have to be about race?


CallSaul wrote on December 06, 2016 at 8:12 pm

I want to thank the NG editors for deleting the account of the person who had posted some since deleted comments on this thread and another with a screenname that looked like mine. 

The NG editors have deleted that account. 

I'd encourage anyone who sees comments from another commenter that seem suspicious to click on the comment history and compare that with the comment history linked to other comments by that commenter to see if they match up.

Thanks again to the NG editors for quickly resolving this and deleting the fake account.

CommonSenseless wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm

Yeah, it was much better before...... you know with no accountable law enforcement, just roving posses bringing their own form of justice.

DoNotTread wrote on December 06, 2016 at 9:12 pm
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You were there? Tell us all about it. 

Nobody was forced to fork over a weeks pay to the government for riding their horse too fast on their way to work either.

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am

Riding a horse too fast seldom involved risking harm to other horse riders. Your logic is weak. Recklessly driving a poorly maintained car in densely populated areas on the other hand...... I'm pretty sure $120 is not a weeks' pay for anyone working full time. Here's a thought, if you can't pay for the ticket don't speed. If they don't have a full time job, where do they have to be in such a hurry anyway?

DoNotTread wrote on December 07, 2016 at 8:12 am
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It is evident at this point you are just trying to annoy me by arguing anything and everything I say. You've made yourself look like a fool, and a weak one at that. I am glad you are not my neighbor. I can picture you peaking out your blinds with your cellphone pouch connected to your dad-jeans ready to call the cops the second someone comes to a rollings stop at an empty intersection. You are insecure and a follower. You've shown you cannot think for yourself and accept any garbage your authorities shove down your throat.

You've been added to the same 'do not feed the racist troll' list along with Tom and Jambam. Congrats. 

CommonSenseless wrote on December 07, 2016 at 9:12 am

Oh fantastic! Now I am a racist troll because I want people to obey some common traffic laws. Speed limits are first established through engineering, and secondly on some common sense. You said you have kids, how about letting them play outside with people driving around without regard for anyone else. Last night 2 people died near Tolono because 1 selfish person was in a hurry and likely speeding. But certainly calling me a racist will win you the argument.

And I only argue with the points you make that are completely ridiculous.