University apologizes for handcuffing student of Sikh faith after 911 knife call

CHARLOTTE, N.C. — The University of North Carolina at Charlotte has apologized after a person who follows the Sikh religion was handcuffed for having a knife in the student union, university officials said.

According to a message sent to the UNC Charlotte community Friday, campus police responded to a 911 call regarding someone with a knife Thursday. Once at the student union, officers approached the person and put them in handcuffs. During the interaction, the university said police took an item from the person and removed the handcuffs.

After further investigation, university officials said the object was a kirpan, an article of faith in Sikhism, according to WSOC-TV.

According to the Sikh Coalition, an organization that defends the civil rights of members of the religion, initiated Sikhs must have articles of faith with them at all times.

A day after the incident, the Charlotte Observer reported the person who was handcuffed posted a video on Twitter of the incident.

“I wasn’t going to post this, but I don’t think I will receive any support from @unccharlotte,” the person wrote on the post. “I was told someone called 911 and reported me, and I got cuffed for ‘resisting’ because I refused to let the officer take my kirpan out of the miyaan. @CLTNinerNews.”

According to WSOC, UNC Charlotte officials said state law and university policy “prohibit the possession of a knife or other edged instruments on campus.”

According to a message sent to the campus community, the university wants to use the incident as a learning opportunity and work with students who follow the Sikh faith.

“Together, we are confident we can find reasonable measures and educational opportunities that both protect the safety of our campus and the religious practices of our community members,” the message said. “We want every Niner to feel welcomed, supported and safe. We apologize that is not what this young man felt in our union yesterday.”

On Friday, the Sikh Coalition posted on Twitter, saying it was aware of a “disturbing video” of the incident.

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