Three students at San Jose State University have been charged with a hate crime after reportedly antagonizing their roommate with signs of slavery and the Nazi regime. The student, who is Christian, stated that he hoped things would improve with time, but when they didn't, he finally spoke up about what was happening. The three students now face up to a year in prison for their crime.
According to Mercury News, which broke the story, the young man, whose name has not been released to the press, was tormented since moving into the dorm suite in August. Three students: Logan Beaschler, Joseph Bomgardner, and Colin Warren are all charged with misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges against their roommate and face up to one year in prison if found guilty.
During a routine visit, the victim's parents noticed a Confederate flag draped in the living room of the suite and the "N-word" written on a dry-erase board. It was later discovered that two campus residential assistants knew about the Confederate flag and asked that it be removed from one of the student's windows, which is how it came to be draped inside the living room. No follow-up was ever recorded, though, and the flag remained in the suite.
The students allegedly drew Nazi symbols in the apartment, including a picture of Adolf Hitler and a swastika, which investigators believe were also signs of intimidation. One clear symbol found in the suite, though, was the pentagram, a sign used to indicate Satanism or evil; given that the victim identified himself as Christian, it was frightening to him.
Unfortunately the harassment did not stop there. The roommates managed to put a metal bike lock around the victim's neck and kept it locked around his neck for 5-10 minutes. When they tried to do it again, he managed to elude the young men but was injured trying to escape.
"I'm still in shock," the victim told Mercury News by phone. "I tried not to dwell on this. My family is upset and I'm upset."
University police decided to turn the case over to District Attorney Jeff Rosen, who has charged the students with the hate crime. The University, however, has also taken action and suspended the three students. The victim also remains at the University.
"They gave him a racial nickname," prosecutor Erin West told NBC News. "They continued to place a Confederate flag in the common area of the suite. He was targeted because he was different, because he was black."
"The District Attorney's Office has no tolerance for those who criminally prey on others because they are different" West told Mercury News.
Students gathered in protest this week to show support for the victim and outrage that the school did not act sooner in his best interest.
"I am outraged and saddened by these allegations," University President Mohammad Qayoumi told the San Francisco Chronicle. "They are utterly inconsistent with our long cherished history of tolerance, respect for diversity, and personal civility."