WINSTON SALEM, NORTH CAROLINA: A viral video captures the moment a 20-year-old student was dragged in handcuffs from a lecture at a historically Black college following a dispute over an essay. Leilla Hamoud is seen in the video being handcuffed by police at Winston-Salem State University after what appears to be an altercation between the student and Cynthia Villagomez, her professor. The footage was released to TikTok on Wednesday, December 14.
In the footage, Hamoud could be heard crying and yelling that she was being mistreated by the police as they pushed her arms behind her back over what she claimed was a disagreement about her final paper. As per the WXII reporter Louie Tran, she is currently facing misdemeanor disorderly conduct charges and is scheduled to appear in court once more on January 25, reports Daily Mail.
If you calling the cops on black students in 2022 you should not be teaching at an HBCU or ANYWHERE https://t.co/utXc6reYvO
— RELIV (@ArielleIvy_) December 14, 2022
However, many of the 4 million viewers of the film are debating whether the North Carolina Black College’s staff was actually justified in requesting law enforcement. At the beginning of the trending TikTok, two policemen—one black and one white—force Hamoud to sit down while handcuffing her behind her back.
While her professor is heard denying that she called the local police on the student, the sobbing 20-year-old can be heard telling the officers, “You’re hurting me real bad.” Villagomez, the co-chair of the school’s political science, history, and social justice department, said, “I was trying to de-escalate.” Hamoud, though, informs the professor: “I hate you. I swear to God I hate you, I swear to God I hate you, you’re the worst teacher ever.” You get me taken out in handcuffs because I won’t apologize?” She continued, “You started yelling at me, you tried to embarrass me about my paper. You’re a terrible teacher. She’s sitting here and saying she love black people and stuff, through tears. You yelled at me first.”
The group then joins in on the sentiment, seemingly attempting to defend Hamoud as she is led out of the room. Yet Villagomez was heard saying, “I was trying to apologize,” in the recording. Although the circumstances behind the arrest are still unknown, university spokeswoman Haley Gingles claimed that the arrest was the last resort that took place at least 10 minutes after the argument started. “From the time the initial disturbance started until the and when the video clip started, it was a significant amount of time,” she said to NBC News. “Certainly, it was more than 10 minutes.” She also claimed that Villagomez did not make the 911 call on Hamoud, but rather a neighboring professor who overheard the argument.
In a statement, university chancellor Elwood Robinson said that the “significant commotion” caused a “WSSU employee nearby” to call campus police in order to “de-escalate the situation.” He added, “We strive for a safe, inclusive, thriving and intellectual community where all our faculty, staff and students feel respected and supported. To that end, we will take swift and appropriate measures against any situation that contradicts those ideals.”
After the incident went viral, Hamoud made the decision to give her perspective in an Instagram Live video. She claimed that she and her peers were involved in a group project with a live presentation scheduled for Wednesday. However, only hours before the group was to present, Villagomez sent her an email instructing her to rework the written section of the assignment. Even though Hamoud believed she didn’t have enough time to revise the essay before they had to deliver, she went to class on the same day.
Hamoud claimed Villagomez became irate after the lesson was briefly halted by a fire alarm and told her to leave the room or apologize for not redoing the essay. She responded by saying that she had taken the decision to remain in the classroom and finish the presentation. “So, boom, she starts yelling at me telling me this is her class [and] it doesn’t matter what I think,’ Hamoud recalled. “I started getting loud back, I’m not going to lie to you guys, I was raising my voice too. I’m like “Dr. V, I’m not going to redo it, I’m here to present with my group, like I’m here to get this done and get out.” However, according to Hamoud, Villagomez persisted in her demand that she leave, and in the end, the professor rushed out of the room herself to speak with a colleague. Hamoud reported that campus police arrived shortly after, with a black officer entering and inquiring as to what had occurred.
She went on to say that she had been arrested for a second-degree misdemeanor but had been released from custody because she had no past misdemeanors.