Two suspicious young men joined a Colorado university’s campus tour to which they didn’t belong, a woman told a 911 dispatcher. They refused to say their names, she said, and one of them started to laugh when she asked what they wanted to study.

“They were lying the whole time,” the woman, a mother of another student on the tour, concluded.

“They just really stand out,” she added, judging from their “odd” behavior and dark clothing with “weird symbolism or wording on it.”

And one of them is “for sure” Hispanic because he said he’s from Mexico.

Body camera footage showed two shaggy-haired teens, 19-year-old Thomas Kanewakeron Gray and his brother, 17-year-old Lloyd Skanahwati Gray, timidly answering questions from police officers. They were told to keep their hands visible. They were patted down because the woman had said one of them had his hand in the pocket of his oversize jacket. They were wearing black clothing, but that “weird symbolism” was metal band logos. One was that of a band called Cattle Decapitation, whose songs protest mistreatment of animals, their mother said.

Contrary to what the woman had suspected, they were part of the campus tour. They showed police an email to prove it. The brothers, who are Native Americans from the Mohawk tribe in New Mexico, had driven several hours to Colorado State University in Fort Collins to see whether the campus would be a good fit for them. They got lost and arrived 45 minutes late. They told police the woman who was suspicious of them had asked for their names, but they didn’t say much because they’re shy. As their mother would later say, they hadn’t had much experience in the outside world.

By the time police let them rejoin the tour, they’d already been left behind. They drove back home.

Days after the April 30 incident, which school officials have described as the result of bias, Colorado State University President Tony Frank wrote a lengthy and sobering apology.

“Two young men, through no fault of their own, wound up frightened and humiliated because another campus visitor was concerned about their clothes and overall demeanor, which appears to have simply been shyness,” Frank wrote Friday. “The very idea that someone – anyone – might ‘look’ like they don’t belong on a CSU Admissions tour is anathema. People of all races, gender, identities, orientations, cultures, religion, heritages, and appearances belong here.”

Anyone who’s “uncomfortable with a diverse and inclusive academic environment” should find another campus, Frank added.

The brothers said that their experience fits a pattern of racial profiling. Thomas Gray, a student at Northern New Mexico College, told the Associated Press that he and his brother kept to themselves the whole time. “I guess that was scaring people,” he said, “that we were just quiet.” The teens’ mother, Lorraine Kahneratokwas Gray, said listening to her son recount the experience reminded her of an encounter between an officer and a black man. “I am lucky my sons are both still alive,” she said.

In a lengthy message to Lorraine Gray, the tour guide said she did not believe the young men were suspicious and apologized for not realizing what had happened until later.


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