A black employee at the University of Massachusetts was questioned by police after a caller reported him for walking to work.
Reg Andrade, who works as a case manager in the university's disability services office, returned from a restroom break to find two plainclothes officers waiting to question him, reported the Daily Hampshire Gazette.
An anonymous caller reported Andrade shortly before 8 a.m. Friday as a "very agitated" black man carrying a large duffel bag, and police said the employee's clothing and appearance matched the caller's description.
Officers asked Andrade what he had done the night before, when he arrived on campus and whether he was upset walking into the building.
“How can somebody just walk by me, not even speaking, and try to discern that I was agitated?” Andrade told the newspaper. “This is when it becomes dangerous, when people know how to push the buttons of law enforcement."
"Those were those strong key buzzwords -- agitated black man dragging a heavy bag,” he added.
Tyrone Parham, chief of university police, said the anonymous tip line is not typically checked right away, unlike the dispatch or 911 lines, but he said the caller's description of Andrade's alleged behavior was alarming.
“One of the things we zoned in on with that message, because we listened to it a couple times, was really the behavior,” Parham told The Massachusetts Daily Collegian. “So it’s not necessarily the description of the person, it was really the behaviors that were exhibited, as to the reasons that we thought we needed to confirm this.”
Police closed off Whitmore Administration Building for 45 minutes while they investigated the call.
“I’m starting to think these two might have guns, these two men might have weapons on them, (and) here I am feeling extremely vulnerable, not comfortable in my own office,” Andrade said. “Where is this going, am I going to get charged with a crime? Are they going to arrest me in front of my co-workers? Handcuff me?”
Andrade, a 14-year employee, said he had previously been racially profiled on campus.
Someone called police on him when he was a student for sitting in an empty classroom and listening to an audio book, and someone later called police on him while working at a new student orientation.
“I always have to have my ID card on me, always, no matter where I go,” he said.
“Each time it gets deeper and deeper and more intense,” Andrade added. “And psychologically, emotionally and physically, it’s just draining.”