Two University of Arizona students were arrested after an assault on a black student that led hundreds of people in Tucson to protest Friday afternoon.
The arrests stem from an attack outside a residence hall earlier this week that one student organization called a hate crime.
The victim told police the men called him the N-word, and one of the men tackled him, then started punching him “in the head like five times,” according to a police report released Friday. He was also kicked while he was on the ground, the victim told police.
The victim said he believed the N-word was said 8-10 times during the encounter.
He told officers he wasn’t sure if the assault was racially motivated and did not know the men who attacked him.
On Twitter, the UA police chief announced that UA police had arrested two students and recommended charging them with class 1 misdemeanor assault.
The Pima County Attorney’s Office will review the recommended charges and decide whether to prosecute.
“We are committed to ensuring campus is a safe & inclusive environment for the entire community,” the university said on Twitter.
Video of the protest on social media shows hundreds of people walking through streets near the university, holding signs condemning racism and hate crimes.
What the police report says
A police report from the UAPD names the two men charged as Matthew Frazier and Matthew Rawlings.
After the student was assaulted outside the Arbol de la Vida residence hall, the two men left the area and went to a nearby house, where police found and detained them. The report lists several witnesses to the incident.
The victim and witnesses are not named in the report. The victim’s race is redacted in the report, but the university said the student was black in its post on Twitter.
The victim told investigators he was “very upset” by the use of the N-word, the report says. He had “minor injuries” from the assault, including scrapes on his knuckles, elbow and knee.
The men both appeared to be intoxicated when police talked to them after the incident, the report says.
The report says the victim initially did not want to press charges against the men.
On Sept. 12, two days after the assault, an officer again interviewed the victim by phone.
In that interview, the victim said the acts have been repeated in his head over and over since they happened, he said.
“He said the incident replays (in his head) every day, every second and it is frustrating,” the report said. “Every time he feels pain in his hand he is reminded of it.”
University response criticized
The university’s Black Student Union said the black student was “physically and verbally attacked in a hate crime” and that he had asked his attackers to stop using the slur.
The BSU criticized the university’s response to the incident on Thursday before the announcement of the arrests.
“The victim suffering from this racially motivated attack has yet to be served justice,” BSU’s statement Thursday said. “The silence on this matter is threatening. Especially as Black students, we deserve safety in our own community. The victim’s silence is warranted, but the administration’s is not.”
UA President Robert Robbins sent an email to the campus on Thursday addressing the situation, saying the university police were investigating. He said the university would “aggressively pursue all avenues of justice in this matter.”
“I want our community to know that racism, bias and violence will not be tolerated on this campus,” Robbins wrote.
The university’s dean of students has “taken immediate action through the code of conduct,” Robbins wrote. The dean has also contacted the victim and their family, he wrote.
“Inclusion is one of our primary values, and this is one of those moments that defines us and our community at the University of Arizona,” Robbins wrote. “We need to come together and let people know, without qualification, that intolerance and discrimination have no home here. Unless we have a safe environment, free from violence, discrimination and hate, students will not be free to learn and pursue their dreams.”
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