Three women attending the University of New York at Albany claimed they were victims of a racially-charged attack last month by a group of white students. Now investigators say the evidence shows the women themselves were the first to turn violent and the only ones to use racially-charged language during the incident.
The incident took place during a morning bus ride on January 30th. A cell phone video captured the altercation and later the same day University President Robert J. Jones published a letter which said in part, “I am deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident. There is no place in the UAlbany community for violence, no place for racial intolerance and no place for gender violence.” Jones also promised, “If those individuals are UAlbany students, we will hold them fully accountable for their behavior.” A local ABC affiliate reported on the reaction to the alleged incident that followed:
Hundreds of people came together to rally on the UAlbany campus on Monday. It was in response to a reported attack on three, black female students over the weekend.
The students said about a dozen white men and women yelled racial slurs at them on a CDTA bus Saturday morning. When the bus arrived on campus, the students said no one helped them as the group began kicking and punching them.
One of the students in the alleged incident emotionally spoke out at the rally for the first time.
“We are proud of who we are,” Asha Burwell said through tears. “As black women, we are shocked, upset, but we will remain unbroken.”
Fox News notes that presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in, tweeting a link to a story about the campus rally to her millions of followers:
There's no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus. https://t.co/ADVghl4iEv -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 4, 2016
But a police review of video from the bus along with interviews of dozens of eyewitnesses revealed that all of the early reports about the bus attack were false. In fact as the university police chief describes it the report of a racially-motivated attack on the three black women is nearly the opposite of what actually happened on the bus:
“The evidence shows that, contrary to how the defendants originally portrayed things, these three individuals were not the victims of a crime,” university Police Chief Frank Wiley said in the statement. “Rather, we allege that they are the perpetrators.”
“No male struck the three women,” the police statement said. “The evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors … and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them.”
In addition, the only racial epithet used during the encounter came from one of the black students who called a woman on the bus a “white b**ch.” All three of the women who claimed they were victims are now facing charges for assault and two of the women also face charges for filing false reports with the police:
Police said Ariel Agudio, 20, faces charges of assault in the third degree, falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, attempted assault in the third degree and attempted criminal mischief in the fourth degree; Alexis Briggs, 20, faces a count of assault in the third degree; and Asha Burwell, 20, faces charges of assault in the third degree and falsely reporting an incident in the third degree.
There is no word yet whether University President Jones will hold the people responsible for the incident “fully accountable” as he promised.