Florida Memorial University has had a rough recent history. In 2005, 15 employees were accused of changing students' grades in return for cash and sexual favors. Last November, a 17-year-old student was shot on campus. And this year, the school's president was abruptly canned.
Add yesterday's near-riot to the list. As shown in the above video, a fracas between students and security guards, employed by Allied Barton, erupted on campus on Monday. At the thirty-second mark, a nightstick-wielding guard can be seen battling a student in a bathroom as a mob attempts to push in. At the 1:13 mark, a guard pulls his handgun and points it at the crowd after a student kicks through the bathroom door. None of the students appear to be armed.
Riptide spoke to a female student who says she was there, but wants to remain anonymous for fear of retribution from the faculty. The way she describes it, security guards caught 19-year-old student Emory Mitchell with a "bag of weed" and barricaded him in the bathroom. Students believed he was being beaten, she says: "We could hear the beatdown. We could hear the screaming."
An officer Riptide reached by phone at FMU's Safety office, who gave his name as John Bryant, refused to provide any details or forward us to another official who might. The university's director of public affairs, Joyce Forchion, said she could not immediately comment.
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The student Mitchell, who has petty theft on his criminal record, was arrested when Miami Gardens Police arrived, and charged with battery. Captain Frank Trujillo tells Riptide that the police report is not yet available.
But according to the anonymous student, this is not the first time security guards have become violent with students -- just the first time it's been caught on tape: "They treat us like we're inmates in a prison compound."
UPDATE: Public Affairs director Forchion has released the following statement:
At Florida Memorial University we are entrusted by our students and their families to create a safe and healthy environment for learning. As part of this responsibility, Florida Memorial contracts with a private security company to provide security services on campus.
An amateur, edited video that was circulated on the internet recorded an incident that occurred Monday night on our campus. The video shows a gathering of students outside a campus restroom where a male student fled after a security officer approached him for questioning about suspected possession of an illegal substance. The security officers involved in the incident attempted to restrain the male student, who responded by assaulting the security officers.
We regret that the student assaulted the private security officer, but are pleased that no one - including the student suspect - was seriously injured. Florida Memorial's administration will continue to investigate details about the incident, including a security officer displaying his weapon.
The student was arrested by the Miami Gardens Police Department and later released. In addition, the security officer who displayed his weapon has been placed on administrative leave.