A police officer serving at the main campus of the George Washington University has been placed on administrative leave after the surfacing of a video that shows him pushing a student down the stairs during a climate change protest.
The incident reportedly took place in front of the on-campus residence of University President Thomas LeBlanc, known as the F Street House, in Foggy Bottom.
The student was taking part in a demonstration, organized by Sunrise GW, against the university’s close links to the fossil-fuel industry, when an altercation broke out with police.
Victoria Freire, a freshman and a member of Sunrise GW, was pushed by an officer down the F Street House’s front steps. She filed a complaint with the D.C. police. However, she didn’t speak to the media so far.
“We will fully investigate complaints in accordance with University and department procedures,” said Scott Burnotes, the assistant vice president of safety and security, said in an email addressing students and staff last week. “I can share that the officer who was involved in the altercation with the student has been placed on administrative leave, as part of the investigation.”
Burnotes said in the email that his division was working with students to collect detailed information about the incident.
“The University places a high value on our students’ right to free speech, and we are committed to protecting their right to do so safely,” he added.
Only a few days before the campus protest, LeBlanc had issued an apology for making “racially insensitive” remarks while responding to a series of questions from a member of Sunrise GW about fossil fuel divestment.