Possibly by the time you read this, my friend, Sarah Braasch will be before the Connecticut Freedom of Information Commission, pleading her case for the release of body camera video, from the Tale Police Department that she believes will exonerate her from any charges of racism that she has been accused of not only locally, by the Yale administration, but also nationally, as the story made nation-wide headlines in 2018. The story is already out there and I’m not going to go through the details, which I have assiduously researched. The question for this post is should Sarah have a right to have the video from the Yale Police Department which Yale has denied her access for more than a year?
My first question is why would Yale deny her access to what may show a different story than what has been presented to the public to date? Of course that answer is simple: It shows Sarah did nothing wrong, and made no statements that may be interpreted as racist. That Yale itself took the opposite view and actually sided with her accuser is enough to make one want to see these videos. At this point, I call this action by Yale, whose, actually hired a high-powered lawyer to represent them, a case of doubling-down. It’s certain that those in the need to know have viewed the video and by spending thousands on outside counsel tells me by itself they have something to hide.
I’e written on Sarah many times in the last year (just do a search on ‘Sarah Braasch’ from the homepage)and you can see that I’ve done a little more than just a cursory look into the case. Others have as well. GretchenMullin, first wrote about her case last February and is the one that put me on it initially. there have been many others by writers at Medium, and the Post Millennial. Cathy Young recently wrote a great piece at The Bulwark that everyone that’s interested in this travesty of justice should read.
What may be Yale’s argument against releasing the videos taken that morning, May 8, 2018 to Sarah? Under Connecticut law, there doesn’t seem to be relief for them, none of the exemptions seem to appy, at face value. The same goes for Federal law. So what argument could Yale’s counsel make to avoid releasing these videos to Sarah? Maybe it’s that they are a provate institution and do not fall under either State or Federal FOIA. I can’t see that argument standing. Yale isn’t funded by state tax dollars as public colleges and universities are, but so what? I searched to discover if the stat itself provided any monies via a grant process to the University and, well, I failed. What I did find was that the Federal government has provided upwards of nearly $500 million a year in grants to Yale. In case anyone is unclear, that is taxpayer funding.
Not to mention the Federal government (that’s us) Guaranteed Student Loan Program. So yes, even private institutions take money from the taxpayers in one way or the other. That means to me that Yale should be subject to both State and Federal FOIA simply because they receive money from taxpayers and may not be immune from either state or federal law. I can’t imagine any other argument based on what I’ve read, but then, I’m not a $2,000 dollar an hour lawyer.that Yale even hired this firm means, or at least should mean, they have a way out of this dilemma.
That would be too bad and a travesty in my opinion simply because that would mean any institution, may do and say anything they want – destroy a persons life – without consequences. This is not the America I grew up in and I would be sad to discover that, if this kind of thing could happen to Sarah, it could happen to anyone – maybe your kid!
It’s confusing as to why Yale would want to fight the release of this vide – especially if it shows no wrongdoing by the University. Why not just load it onto their site where every media outlet that’s interested can view and download for themselves what occurred that night? did the police themselves violate any Civil Rights law? The police are not perfect and although I support police in general, there may be something there that indicates a failure in police process. It happens.
The bottom line is there has to be a reason why Tale is fighting this release. Let me take for a moment the Devil’s Advocate position: Sarah has already been hurt by this incident and we don’t want to cause any more injury to her personally or to her reputation. Sarah, though is willing to take that chance because she believe, knows, there’s nothing there to substantiate anything that would show her to be a racist. So why not just give her the complete and unedited video of the incident as recorded by the Yale Police’
I’m suspicious, and by all the actions to date by Yale, I believe my suspicions to be valid. Here’s what I really believe: the video will show nothing that would indict Sarah and releasing the video would allow Sarah to sue Yale, because of their accusatory statements after the incident, as well as numerous media outlets that just took the word of the University to pint Sarah, racist.
I cannot image this trial, by media, that Sarah had to endure. Of course in a real trial, civil or criminal the prosecution (accuser – Yale) would have to turn over all their evidence of malfeasance by the defendant/respondent (Sarah) – even that which may be exculpatory. But this upcoming meeting with a commission is not a trial and their rules of evidence if they have any, may be different,. One would hope that the commission would look fairly at the request by Sarah and not be influenced by any outside sources or their own prejudice.
The only question for the commission, in my mind, should be: Should Sarah Braasch have access to evidence that may prove statements by Yale University, and students attending Yale University, to be false? If the commission rules against Sarah, it will be a sad day for justice in this country. I don’t expect a ruling immediately from said commission, but I think it would be advantageous to all parties for them to make a decision as soon as possible,.
Whatever happens during the hearing, there will be those of us that continue to support Sarah, Winning would be the best outcome of course, but as many of us know, even when someone has a good case, there’s no guaranteed outcome. So I hope no matter what, even in a good outcome, none of us will forget Sarah as she will have become a tiny beacon of light that we may all point to when we fear there’s injustice.