Update: UNMPD officer Eric Peer has been placed on paid administrative leave pending the outcome of the University’s investigation but no final decision has been made, according to University communications officer Cinnamon Blair. Meanwhile, a petition calling for Peer to be fired has gained more than 100 signatures since being created Friday morning.
In a now-deleted TikTok video, University of New Mexico Police Department officer Eric Peer recorded a man tiling a floor with a voiceover of Cartman from South Park saying “scanning for Mexicans” edited in. The video circulated on Twitter Thursday night, with some students calling for Peer to be fired.
“I think the cop absolutely needs to be fired. There’s no justification to keep him on whatsoever,” Associated Students of the University of New Mexico President Pro Tempore Suha Musa told the Daily Lobo.
Musa said she wants to see UNMPD defunded and the money allocated to student resources, but in lieu of that, she said the University and campus police department “need to work with departments on campus that are actually equity-minded and implement intensive training on social issues and discrimination of all kinds.”
She said the University should also host forums “so that the campus community as a whole can express what they want to see as the next step.”
The UNM Division for Equity and Inclusion released a statement condemning the video on Friday afternoon and said the administration was “investigating the incident to determine appropriate action.”
“The Division for Equity and Inclusion denounces this type of behavior, particularly by a public safety officer, and reminds individuals to report any offensive communications via the hate/bias incident reporting system,” the statement read. “Reports can be made anonymously and are reviewed by the Office of Equal Opportunity.”
In a bizarre move coming after the racist TikTok posted by a UNMPD Officer, Equity and Inclusion’s Twitter post condemning the video encouraged students, faculty and staff to report hate crimes to UNMPD itself via the hate/bias incident reporting website.
Earlier this year, amidst national protests, ASUNM passed a resolution calling for the abolition of the police and for the UNM administration to address police brutality and issues in the Black community.
Other students pointed out on Twitter that UNM is a Hispanic-serving institution.
“As a minority alumnus of @UNM, this concerns me. When the police look at me, what do they see?” wrote Marco Lueras.
UNM President Garnett Stokes addressed the video Friday morning with a brief statement on Twitter.
“We are aware of the social media incident related to one of our UNMPD officers, and are investigating immediately and appropriately,” Stokes wrote. “@UNM and @unmpd stand against racism and social injustice. Respect and diversity are part of our culture, values and who we are as Lobos.”
Musa, who was critical of Stokes after an incident at a protest in June during which state police snipers were seen stationed on the roof of a campus building, wasn’t impressed.
“It feels like a message they just have in their back pocket for incidents like these,” Musa said. “It gives us no understanding of what to expect and is an attempt to quiet all the criticism while they figure out what they’re going to do.”
ASUNM Senator Emma Hotz, who first posted Peer’s video on Twitter — which at the time of the publication of this article had over 625likes and 175 retweets — said she wants to see action, not platitudes.
“I really hope that we are updated and are able to see what investigations take place and see a course of action taken afterwards,” Hotz said. “I agree that there’s no room for racism on our campus, but that means we have to take action to fight against it.”
Peer did not respond to a message on TikTok requesting comment and has since deleted his account. In response to a request for comment, UNMPD redirected the Daily Lobo to University communications officer Cinnamon Blair who couldn’t be reached for comment as of the time of publication.
Bella Davis is a senior reporter at the Daily Lobo. She can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org or on Twitter @bladvs