University security guard takes CN citizen’s ID, threatens arrest

BY TRAVIS SNELL
Assistant Editor – @cp_tsnell
05/24/2018 04:00 PM
Main Cherokee Phoenix
An unidentified security guard takes Nicolas Rojas’ Cherokee Nation photo identification card on May 6 at Marymount California University after he asked Rojas for identification. Rojas said the guard threatened to have him arrested and that it took more than 30 minutes before he got back his ID. AJ+ VIDEO
RANCHO PALOS VERDES, Calif. – A video by a 20-year-old Cherokee Nation citizen has gone viral after a security guard took his tribal identification card on May 6 at Marymount California University.

Nicolas Rojas, an El Camino Community College student, said he went to MCU to study with a friend who attends the university when a security guard checking IDs took his CN photo ID card and became “hostile.”

“He then told me I had to leave, yelled at me and threatened to have me arrested. He became very hostile with me, started harassing me and put his hands inside my car, during which I started to record him,” Rojas said. “He told me I had to leave, but he had taken my ID with him and refused to give it back until I left and parked at a different school nearby. The whole interrogation took over a half an hour and I had a project due that Monday. I just wanted to study with my friend, but instead was threatened to be arrested several times without reasoning.”

The ID card the security guard took is a CN photo ID card that contains a tribal citizen’s photo and citizenship information one side and Cherokee blood quantum on the other. According to CN Communications, the cards are federally recognized. And TSA.gov states the cards are Transportation Security Administration-approved for domestic travel.

Rojas said he’s used his CN ID card to apply for jobs, board domestic flights and at banks to withdraw money.

He added that the security guard spoke unprofessionally to him and refused to give back the ID.

“I want this…to bring awareness about the issues indigenous people of North America face and the constant humiliation we have to endure by just existing,” Rojas said. “Campuses should be places of sanctuary for all attempting to further themselves through education. I don’t understand why he held onto my ID considering that he already at that point had told me that I would not be allowed to enter the campus. He took my ID with him as he was threatening to have me arrested.”

Rojas said he eventually got his ID back from the security guard after his friend, who is a resident advisor at MCU, showed and asked the guard for the ID back.

“I find it pitiful that I have to have a communicator within a place of power just to get my ID back,” he said.

Rojas said he contacted university officials about the incident who told him they needed to fully investigate the incident from both perspectives. He said officials said if they found the guard liable then they would retrain him.

“Ideally I would want campus-wide diversity talks, and all guards to have a day of retraining. I personally feel that many institutions are not a welcoming places for minorities, and this demonstrates the hostility many of us face just trying to even enter a campus,” Rojas said.
According to the AJ+ video of the incident, MCU President Brian Marcotte said he watched the video and was “confident there was no discrimination” and that “it didn’t seem threatening.”

According to the video, the school said it would train security on different IDs.

To view the video, visit https://www.facebook.com/ajplusenglish/videos/1197973477010824/.
About the Author
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...
TRAVIS-SNELL@cherokee.org • 918-453-5358
Travis Snell has worked for the Cherokee Phoenix since 2000. He began as a staff writer, a position that allowed him to win numerous writing awards from the Native American Journalists Association, including the Richard LaCourse Award for best investigative story in 2003. He was promoted to assistant editor in 2007, ...

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