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Native American teenagers kicked out of university after white parent complains


The two boys were pulled aside by police while on a tour of the university (Picture: Colorado State University)

Two Native American teenagers were removed from a university tour after a white parent said their presence made her feel nervous.

Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and brother Lloyd Skanahwati Gray were questioned by police and pulled from a tour of Colorado State University after just 30 minutes.

Thomas, 19, and a student at Northern New Mexico College in Espanola, said police stopped him and his 17-year-old brother, at Santa Fe Indian School, while the tour group was inside a campus gym.

School officials say a woman in the group reported them to police after feeling nervous on Monday.

The university released recordings of two phone calls made to police by a woman who described the teens’ behavior as ‘really odd’ but also said she may be ‘paranoid’.

According to the recording, the caller told a dispatcher that the teens arrived late in the tour and wouldn’t respond to questions about their names or what they wanted to study at the school.

‘They are not, definitely not, a part of the tour,’ said the woman, identified in a police report as a 45-year-old white woman from Colorado.

‘And their behavior is just really odd. And I’ve never called, ever, about anybody. But they joined our tour. They won’t give their names.’

The woman also said during the call that the teens were ‘lying the whole time,’ but doesn’t offer specifics to support the claim, except to say that one of them laughed when she asked what they were studying.

She also repeatedly told the dispatcher that her concern could be ‘completely paranoid’ and apologized ‘if it’s nothing.’

Native americans kicked out of university after white parent complains Credit: Colorado State University

Police only released the boys after the pair showed officers an email showing they had reserved tour sport (Picture: Colorado State University)

Other than saying the teens were wearing all black clothing with ‘dark stuff on it,’ the caller did not physically describe them until questioned by the dispatcher.

She said she believed they were Hispanic, and described their clothing as having a ‘weird symbolism or wording on it.’

Body camera footage also released yesterday showed two officers approach the teens before asking them to step aside to question the two teenagers.

They boys were only released after they provided an email showing they had reserved campus tour spots – but by then the tour had moved on so the brothers decided to drive home to Santa Cruz, New Mexico.

‘I think it’s pretty discriminatory,’ Thomas said. ‘Me and my brother just stayed to ourselves the whole time. I guess that was scaring people; that we were just quiet.’

Native americans kicked out of university after white parent complains Credit: Colorado State University

Police asked to check the boys’ pockets after receiving a phone call (Picture: Colorado State University)

The university has apologised and has invited the pair back to the school for a VIP tour with their family, saying it will pay for travel.

The school said it would also refund the money the boys spent to travel to the school.

‘Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness.

‘The very idea that someone – anyone – might `look’ like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema,’ university president Tony Frank wrote in an email to students and staff Friday.

The university is taking several steps to prevent a similar situation from happening again, including the use of lanyards or badges to identify tour guests.

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