A white St. Catherine University campus security guard, Brent P. Ahlers, 25, was arrested Wednesday night in St. Paul, Minnesota for fabricating a story about a black man with a short Afro and a blue sweatshirt shooting him in the shoulder the night before.
His excuse for drawing on the age-old tradition of blaming an imaginary “black man” for white crimes was that he was afraid of being fired for bringing his own gun to work. Guns are not allowed on the all-women’s Catholic campus. But by lying to protect himself, he made manifest the very thing he feared.
St. Catherine University President Becky Roloff announced last night that Ahlers had been terminated. And local police said they are considering what they can charge him with beyond “falsely reporting a crime.”
This comes on the heels of a neo-Nazi blaming a black man for stabbing him in the days after white supremacist violence in Charlottesville.
According to the Minneapolis Star-Tribune:
Dianne Binns, president of the St. Paul NAACP, said Ahlers’ decision to describe the nonexistent suspect as a black man is rooted in the racism that perpetuated slavery and the oppression of blacks for hundreds of years.
“That’s what black people live with,” she said. “We’ve been lynched, and we’ve been put in jail to find out later you haven’t done it. That’s the sad thing about it. It hasn’t stopped.”
The actual perpetrator’s racist stunt cost the taxpayers both financially and psychologically. The Root states that, while they were checking out Ahlers’ false story, local police had to put the campus “on lockdown for hours as 55 police officers, four K-9 units and Minnesota State Patrol aircraft searched for the alleged suspect.” And Sgt. Ernster of the St. Paul Police Department said to the Star-Tribune that Ahlers “‘had basically 1,800 students held captive in their dorm rooms at St. Catherine’s . . . and it had residents of the Mac-Groveland and Highland Park communities fearing they would be hurt in their homes.”
But the ones who really get hurt in these situations are black people, who for centuries have been demonized, stereotyped and falsely accused of crimes, so that white people can continue to enjoy the impunity their privilege affords them.
Lucia Brawley is a Harvard- and Yale-educated writer, producer, actor, and political organizer. She runs the progressive political Facebook group Consenting to Lead. To learn more, please go to luciabrawley.com.