( )

My Story Matters: A student voice series

By Georgia Valdes, Mar. 9, 2021

This story is part four of the “My Story Matters” series — a collection of stories being published to bring awareness to the racial injustices Cal Poly Pomona students say they have been experiencing on campus. This story highlights Jeremy Manning, a Black student studying philosophy who experienced racial injustice through the actions of the University Police Department.

This time last year, Black veteran and fourth-year philosophy student, Jeremy Manning, stopped between classes to get bite to eat with a friend. At the Panda Express register, he was surprised to be told his card was declined. Upon learning that thousands of dollars were stolen from his account, he placed a police report with the University Police Department. Months later, after his bank had reimbursed the stolen funds, Detective Howard Brown of UPD allegedly knocked on Manning’s front door in South Los Angeles and accused him of falsifying the police report.

Manning chose to attend CPP not just for its vicinity to his mother’s home, but also because of the positive reception of the Veteran’s Resource Center. His previous career in the U.S. Air Force, where he served as a Security Forces Airman, gave him the opportunity to train in police tactics and ethics.
Today, he works as a licensed private investigator. So, when Brown showed up at his home in May 2020, Manning quickly understood that there was a bigger issue at hand.

“Far be it from me to accuse the substance of somebody, but you drive out to somebody’s house because you want to see how they’re living,” Manning said. “If you are driving up to somebody’s house, you’re doing it to arrest him.”

Courtesy of Eduardo Rangel

According to Manning, Brown presented photographs of him making purchases around campus. Manning confirmed that the photos were of himself, but that he did not lie about the identity theft. According to Manning, when he refused to recant his police report, Brown’s tone became more threatening and interrogative.

“He remarked that my apartment is nice. He remarked that, ‘I have a future and he would hate to ruin it,’” Manning recalled.

Following the visit, Manning wrote an email with his statement of events, documenting all interactions with UPD. He sent this email to various campus resources including the Student Affairs office and Police Chief Dario Robinson.

He repeatedly sent this message for the next few weeks, yet the summer passed without a response. Until on Feb. 13, when Manning received a letter from the Pomona District Attorney’s office with an arraignment date set for Feb. 18 on charges of PC148.5a, falsifying a police report; Manning has not been charged with fraud.

“This was news to me because typically when the police charge you with something, they are the first ones to tell you,” Manning said, “After that meeting at my house in May, (Brown) never came back. I never received a phone call. I never received an email from the police. Nothing. So, for all intents and purposes I just assumed it was dropped.”

With his life now at a complete halt, Manning wrote more emails in early February. First, to inform his instructors that he is unable to attend class and may fall behind on assignments. Next, to his VRC supervisor, to explain he may need flexible working hours to make it to court hearings. Last, to Alexander Covarrubias, executive director of student inclusion & belonging and facilitator of the Police Advisory Task Force, to which Manning had been recruited last fall.

“It hit me kind of hard. Last week was hell, and I could not get anything done. I was scrambling to find an attorney. I had to tell all my professors that I cannot focus on class. Everything has to take a back seat,” Manning said, “All I can think about is how we have seen so many times in recent history
where people had all the facts and still lost. This can go a thousand ways that do not go right. Stuff
that can literally jack your life up. That’s what I am preoccupied with.”

Manning believes these charges are based on racial profiling compounded with a lack of due process
and oversight. He added that this may have been avoided had anyone paid attention to his initial
statements.

“Through working with the task force, and even just attending the school and talking to other students
we know that there are biases that exist within the institutions that we have on our campus,” Manning
said. “I do want to say that I was targeted, whether that was based on my character or not, I don’t
know.”

Manning sent an open letter of events to “anybody who would actually read it,” including The Poly
Post and University President Soraya Coley with questions as to why he has received no response
prior to these charges.

“Here I am, I’ve spent some thousands of dollars retaining legal counsel for a crime, that I 100% did not do, after reporting a crime that had happened to me,” Manning said.

Christina Gonzalez, vice president of student affairs and overseer to UPD responded to the inquiry.
Gonzalez started at CPP July 2020 and, according to her, was never informed of Manning’s case
previously. Despite this, Gonzalez stressed that she takes responsibility for the issue and the steps
moving forward to resolve it.

“Someone should have responded to him in a timely manner,” Gonzalez said, “I do believe that
Jeremy was not treated in a fair and equitable way and it’s not okay. I’m not okay with what
happened.”

According to Manning, he was informed that there was no set process to handle the issue he had
reported. Gonzalez now aims to create a process so that no other student experiences the same
incident. To do so, she has connected with a third-party firm to review the case. Under its
recommendation, Gonzalez hopes to formulate a solution.

“We want to be proactive, and I believe that this external review will help us with that,” Gonzalez said.
“This should not happen to anyone again. There should be a process that students know, ‘This is what
I need to do’ that is visible and well known.”

Detective Brown and Police Chief Dario Robinson did not respond for comment. According to Amon
Rappaport, senior associate vice president for strategic communications and chief communications
officer, this is due to the nature of an ongoing investigation.

ASI Vice President Manshaan Singh was shocked by the events outlined by Manning’s second
statement.

“In terms of referring something to the DA, it makes no sense to me. I think it’s something that could
have gone to student conduct. In that sense, I think it definitely could have been avoided,” Singh said.

Singh is drafting a resolution in solidarity to address the issue. This resolution can first be introduced
to the ASI Rules and Policies committee on Mar. 12. Should it pass a Mar. 26 vote, and should reach the ASI Board of Directors on April 8 and then a vote during its April 15 meeting.

Students can attend rules and policies meetings as well as the board of director’s meetings to voice their thoughts during the open forum.

As of Mar. 9, Manning has pled “not guilty” to the charge of falsifying a police report and now awaits
trial. According to Manning, he has not been given access to the police report nor given any
documents regarding his own identity theft report made February 2020.

Following these events, Manning is wrestling with losing faith in the institution’s effectiveness in
protecting its students while also finding a renewed passion for police reform and social justice work.

“I don’t drop things. I’ve always advocated for people. Most of the work I do in my philosophy writing
is aimed toward stuff like this, it’s why I switched to the major,” said Manning, who launched The
Northern Tier podcast, where he and his guests will dive deep into equitable solutions to injustice.

“If I fundamentally believe that the way that we do equity or at least justice is a joke, then I can either wake up every day and be mad about it or I can try to do it right,” Manning added. “Even though it is happening to me, there has got to be five or six other students who had this happen to them. I don’t know what’s real. I don’t know what is sincere. I just know we are not doing it right.”

If a student has a complaint regarding discrimination or harassment, they are urged to contact The
Office of Equity and Compliance.

  • Show Comments (0)

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

comment *

  • name *

  • email *

  • website *

You May Also Like

Marvel’s ‘Doctor Strange’ delivers with strange origin story

By Ivan Mateo Marvel tends to be spot-on with casting choices for its superheroes ...

Atlanta’ shows off the multi-talented Donald Glover

By Ivan Mateo Donald Glover emerged to display his talents during his early days ...

The Girl on the Train’e fails to entertain

By Ivan Mateo It is often said that imitation is the sincerest form of ...