Students at The Ohio State University gathered early last month to protest the school’s handling of a hate crime involving black assailants and white victims.
OSU is required by the Clery Act to report crimes that occur on and around campus and sent a Public Safety Notice to the community explaining that on September 2, two related hate crimes “occurred in the campus area.”
“At approximately 11 p.m., officers responded to W. 12th Avenue and College Road on the report of a fight in progress. Officers arrived on scene and located the victim, an Ohio State student. The victim reported that he was walking along High Street on the west sidewalk when an unknown Black male standing across the street yelled a racial slur. The two exchanged words and the suspect that initiated the altercation ran toward the victim punching him in the face. The victim left the area before seeking help for his injuries,” the notice said.
Two other students approached police to “report a similar incident from around the same time.” These two students said a Black female in the off-campus area pulled up next to the victims in her car and yelled the same racial slur at them. The students ignored the driver, but she either followed them or came across them again, this time getting out of her car and attacking the female OSU student while a Black male — which police believe to be the same man who attacked the other student — attacked the male OSU student.
The race of the victims was not identified until days later when two follow-up emails sent from OSU’s Department of Public Safety, Campus Reform reported.
On September 8, the outlet reported, “roughly 100 students gathered outside of the school’s administrative offices in order to protest the ‘error and confusion in the handling of’ the public safety notices.”
Some students tweeted that the initial report, which omitted the victims’ races, meant the university was “mocking their entire Black student body right now.” The student added: “They’re blatantly making campus more uncomfortable and dangerous for us and POC.”
Further, OSU student group Student Solidarity claimed that because the attackers were black and the victims were white, it could not be considered a hate crime.
“The details of this incident that were shared in OSU’s public safety notice do not meet the legal definition of a hate crime. To refer to it as such solely because the alleged perpetrators used a ‘racial slur’ is illogical,” the organization argued. “’Racial slurs’ referring to White people are not based on a history of violence & oppression towards White people. Using this ‘slur’ does not have the same violent, racist implications as a White person saying the n-word, for example, nor does it make this incident a hate crime.”
One student suggested to student newspaper The Lantern that black people can’t be racist toward white people.
University Police Chief Kimberly Spears-McNatt told the campus outlet that victims’ race was mistakenly omitted from the first notice, hence the correction.