Three white San Jose State University (SJSU) students were not convicted on hate crime charges for locking a bike lock around a black classmate’s neck and referring to him as the N-word, Raw Story reports. Colin Warren, Logan Beaschler, and Joseph “Brett” Bomgardner, were convicted of misdemeanor battery, but the all white Santa Clara County Superior Court jury was deadlocked over the hate crime charge. District Attorney Jeff Rosen acknowledged the bullying was racially charged, but the jury considered the actions taken by the students to be nothing more than pranks that went too far.
“Prejudice is not a prank,” Rosen said in a statement. “This violence did not happen in a historical vacuum. This violent act was done to a young black college student by five white men, an injustice inflicted upon him because of the color of his skin.”
— The Progressive Mind (@Libertea2012) February 26, 2016
The racist students are accused of repeatedly bullying their black roommate, Donald Williams, Jr., back in 2013. The defendants reportedly displayed a Confederate flag in their shared dorm at SJSU and referred to him as “three-fifths” and “fraction,” per the 18th Century U.S. Consensus that didn’t consider blacks as fully human. In another incident, one of Donald’s white roommates came up behind him and placed a U-shaped bike lock around his neck. Warren, Beaschler, and Bomgardner were found guilty of misdemeanor battery for “offensively touching” Williams during the bike-lock “prank,” the San Jose Mercury News reported. They had all pleaded not guilty to the charges.
We live in a country that uses words like “thugs” and “criminals” to describe unarmed black youth, but young whites who racially harass and physical torment black students on college campuses are labeled “pranksters,” and given a slap on the wrist. Those outraged by the racially-motivated campus terrorism are calling the jury’s decision yet another example of White privilege that so many non-blacks claim doesn’t exist. Could it be that the jury was deadlocked on the hate crime charge because they found nothing nefarious in actions that they themselves can relate to?
Folks like those on this jury are the parents of the kids who go to college and terrorize non-whites with their racist rhetoric. After all, racism is learned at home, right?
“I am saddened that 12 jurors could not agree that calling a black male ‘Three-fifths’ or ‘Fraction,’ or forcing a lock around his neck, or creating an environment promoting racism with Confederate memorabilia, or hearing how this young man was humiliated, amounted to a hate crime,” former Judge LaDoris Cordell, head of the university’s task force on racial discrimination, told the San Jose Mercury News. “This verdict demonstrates that we are a long way from living in a post-racist America.”
— Los Angeles Times (@latimes) February 24, 2016
The racial attacks on Williams came to light when his parents paid a visit to the dorm and noticed a Confederate flag on the wall as well as “three-fifths” written on a nearby white board, per The Source. The roommates’ lawyers argued that the students’ actions were a “prank war” and that they boys were “immature, insensitive and stupid” but hardly criminals.
“Kids with too much time on their hands will do stupid things,” Beaschler’s attorney, Charles Mesior said, according to Reuters. Meanwhile, Colin Warren’s attorney said during his closing argument that Warren “isn’t racist” because he was “dating an African-American woman and did not want the relationship to end.”
SJSU issued a public apology in wake of Warren, Beaschler, and Bomgardner’s arrests (a fourth person was charged as a minor). The students are no longer enrolled at the university, and Donald’s family is pursuing a civil suit against the students.
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