Updated March 16, 11:23 a.m.
A former American River College student who had been allegedly sending racist and threatening messages to the president of the school was arrested Tuesday night after violating a restraining order, police officials said.
Jamie Barnes was arrested at Sacramento City College after she allegedly called the Los Rios Police Department and “made a number of claims, all of them as yet unsubstantiated and none of them at this time indicating a threat,” according to police officials. Barnes was arrested for violating the terms of a restraining order placed against her for making threats against the ARC president.
Barnes was released from the Sacramento County Jail Wednesday morning, according to Los Rios police.
Los Rios Community College District Chancellor Brian King said the former student has been sending “various emails and left messages for a period of years” to district lawyers and other college officials. The recent threats prompted the district to file a restraining order and increase security on campus. The district did not take any actions in previous incidents, King said.
“The difference this time was the racial animus and the indication of threats,” King told CapRadio. “So we always respond immediately whenever there is a specific threat and have zero tolerance for the racial language and epithets that were used in some of the communications.”
Melanie Dixon is the first Black woman president at ARC and one of two Black presidents in the Los Rios system.
Barnes was also accused last year of sending “phone calls, electronic messages or emails that are obscene, threatening or repeated in nature,” according to Sacramento County court records.
Dr. Debra Crumpton, professor at Sacramento City College and president of the Los Rios Black Faculty and Staff Association, said she heard one of the messages Barnes left. According to Crumpton, the message said that all Black people should leave ARC because it’s a white school, and that it should not have a Black woman leading the college.
Crumpton said Barnes used the N-word throughout the voice message.
“I've been around for a while, and I have had threats myself,” Crumpton said. “But it is among the most aggressive, vile, threatening messages I have heard.”
Despite the restraining order, Crumpton says the incident has some Black educators in the district on edge. Last week, the Black Faculty and Staff Association had a meeting to discuss the racist messages.
Among their concerns were that these messages weren’t just a one-off incident, and that they represent a larger issue of racism and anti-Blackness within the district, Crumpton said.
“There is this pervasive current, undercurrent in many cases, of racism at American River College,” Crumpton said. “It has been a longstanding concern, and there have been faculty and classified professionals who have felt unsafe there and some who have left there because of this environment.”
The association submitted a list of 10 demands to chancellor King that included having an independent investigation into the incident as well as racism across Los Rios campuses, a real-time system for reporting racism, and required association-approved anti-racist training for all employees.
King did not rule out an investigation as part of the district’s efforts to be anti-racist, and to keep the college campuses “welcoming places for our Black students and students of all races and backgrounds.”
“We can't prevent individuals from outside of our organization from saying and doing horrible stuff,” King said. “We can respond very forcefully when those things happen.”
King said President Dixon is feeling OK and will “share her perspective as she sees fit” in the coming weeks.
Editor’s note: Kris Hooks is an adjunct instructor at Sacramento City College, which is part of the Los Rios Community College District.
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