Bias may have motivated Harbin assault

December 4, 2008

Georgetown’s Department of Public Safety and Bias Reporting Committee are investigating last week’s assault outside Harbin Hall to determine whether the crime was racially motivated. A separate investigation by the Metropolitan Police Department is ongoing.

The assault, which took place late last Monday night, became public last Tuesday when DPS released a public safety alert. Both DPS and MPD responded to the incident, which MPD classified as an “assault with a deadly weapon-unknown object.” Assault with a deadly weapon is a felony in the District of Columbia.

The victim, a Georgetown student, was smoking outside Harbin when he was approached and addressed by three men whom he did not know, according to the PSA. According to the victim’s cousin, who is also a Georgetown student and who wished to remain anonymous, the victim was walking up the staircase that connects Harbin Patio to Tondorf Road. The victim himself declined to comment.

“If you go there, you can see it’s very narrow,” the victim’s cousin said. “[The victim] said the guys came down while he was going up.”

When the suspects began speaking to the victim, he told them that he did not speak English well, at which point two of them pushed him against a wall and the third suspect cut his face with an unknown object, according to the victim’s cousin and the MPD report. His cousin said that although the victim could not see the weapon clearly in the dark, he thought that it was probably either a small knife or a razor. After the attack, the victim went to his cousin’s room on campus.

“I saw there was blood on the top of his face and under his eyes,” his cousin said. “He couldn’t realize [the extent of the injury] until he saw his face in the mirror, so he washed his face and whatever, and then I called Public Safety.”

The victim’s cousin served as an interpreter between the victim and MPD, according to the MPD report. Although MPD did not classify the incident as a suspected hate crime, Associate Dean Dennis Williams, the Director of the Center for Multicultural Equity and Access, wrote in an email message that “the University’s Bias Reporting committee is seeking to obtain more information about this incident.”

According to the victim’s descriptions in both the DPS and MPD reports, all three suspects are black males in their 20s who are over six feet tall and wore dark pants and white Georgetown sweatshirts. One suspect has facial hair and the other two do not.

Sergeant Joseph Smith, DPS’ Crime Prevention Coordinator, declined to comment on the investigation because it is ongoing. MPD’s Detectives Unit did not respond to requests for comment.

The victim was transported to Georgetown University Hospital by the Georgetown Emergency Response Medical Service, according to his cousin. He was treated for an abrasion to the right side of his face and released, according to the MPD report. GERMS Public Relations Director Taylor Burkholder declined to comment.

“This happened on a campus which is supposed to be a safe place,” the victim’s cousin said. “If it happened off campus, we could blame him [for walking alone at night] … he came here to study, not to make problems.”

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Rusty Shackleford

Am I the only one who finds it disconcerting that the victim of this attack, a Georgetown student, claimed that he did not speak English well?! Or that this student could not even speak to the police without his cousin’s (also a Georgetown student) assistance translating!? For argument’s sake, lets assume this wasn’t an EFL student hanging out late by a freshman dormitory on a weekend. What caliber student is Georgetown accepting nowadays?

Will Sommer

The guy just had his face cut up! Even the best ESL people could get flustered by that.

Also, why is it that Rusty Shackleford has become a decidedly conservative nom de blog? Does Dale Gribble not inspire liberals?