Syracuse University community questions if race was factor in assault

S.U.'s Dept. of Public Safety chief put out a statement Monday, "Acts of violence and intolerance of any kind...will not be tolerated." (CNYCentral Photo)

A growing number of people in the Syracuse University community are concerned race may have been a factor in a reported off-campus assault early Saturday morning.

Three victims, all young men who are students at the university, told police that a white woman hit them in the head with a handgun on Ackerman Ave. after getting into an altercation with her and a white man.

Syracuse police have not indicated the race of the students and said right now, they are not investigating the assault as a hate crime. Tuesday, police issued another news release saying it does not appear the assault was motivated by race.

However, Syracuse University Department of Public Safety Chief Bobby Moldonado issued a statement Monday saying:

"Acts of violence and intolerance of any kind, including those based on race, contradicts our values and will not be tolerated."

According to DPS, the woman involved is in her early 20s, with brown shoulder length hair. She was reportedly wearing a gray jacket and dark pants.

None of the students were seriously hurt, according to DPS.

The assault stirring emotions of many SU students. Torree Payton-Jackson is with the SU Student Association. She says there is more to the story than what DPS or Syracuse Police released. She says it's the organization's job to bring the issue to light.

"We are very disappointed in how it was handled by DPS," said Payton-Jackson. "The lack of transparency involved because this was clearly a racially charged crime."

A group of students, who the Student Association says were at the party where they say the assault happened, released a statement in part saying:

"Three of our fellow students of color were assaulted by a group of three Caucasian males and one Causcasian female wielding a weapon."

It goes on to say a racial slur was made and one of the victims was hit in the face, and others were hit in the head with a silver metal pistol.

"You just don't call somebody a slur and attack them then it's not related, so just for them to automatically rule this out as a hate crime is just unacceptable," said Payton-Jackson.

The Student Association will be presenting a resolution to DPS in the coming days with the hopes to encourage the department to investigate the assault as a racially motivated crime.

Payton-Jackson and other students we spoke with see this as another opportunity for a much needed change at Syracuse University.

"This pattern has to stop, it just has to stop," said Payton-Jackson. "So as a Student Association we are here and we are really trying to find ways to combat this."

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