By Arek Sarkissian II
Arizona Daily Wildcat
Thursday April 10, 2003
Professor plans to tell the community his side of the story
Police detained UA Professor Julian Kunnie last Sunday shortly after a man threatened a campus-area restaurant employee. Now, Kunnie plans to take action against what he called "a violation of his rights as a citizen."
Kunnie, director of the African-American studies department, was released 10 minutes after being detained when the threatened employee told police in a drive-by line-up that he was not the suspect.
Kunnie was standing at East First Street and North Tyndall Avenue when a University of Arizona Police officer stopped him because he fit the description of the man who pulled a knife on an employee at Subway, 914 E. Speedway Blvd., reports stated.
The officer reportedly had his gun drawn at his side when he confronted Kunnie because the suspect was reported to have a knife.
"Clearly the first black man they saw, the police pounced on. They pulled a gun on me," he said. "It's a very serious situation, and I'm very disturbed by it."
UAPD could not be reached for comment yesterday evening.
Kunnie, who joined UA in 1996, was recently named director of his department.
While he served as acting head in 1998, he and College of Humanities Dean Charles Tatum were named in a suit against the university, in which former director Mikelle Omari-Tunkara claimed she was fired in 1996 because of her race and gender.
Former Gov. Jane Dee Hull's attorneys reviewed Omari-Tunkara's complaint.
Omari-Tunkara is now an art history professor.
Kunnie was also involved in a suit against the Arizona Board of Regents for the 1999 firing of Tolagbe Ogunleye, a former professor. The case went to the U.S. Ninth District Court, which ruled in favor of the regents.
Kunnie said he will speak out about the incident at 9 a.m. Tuesday at the Islamic Center, 901 E. First St. to "get the story straight."