Sunday, November 18, 2012

University Of Virginia Students Concerned After Police Took 24 Hours To Reports On-Campus Anti-Gay Hate Crime

NBC29 WVIR Charlottesville, VA News, Sports and Weather

A group of students at the University of Virginia is demanding an end to anti-gay violence on grounds. The reaction comes after university police say a student was hit in the face Thursday night near Brooks Hall in what investigators suspect was an anti-gay hate crime. All of the students spoken to Sunday agreed that UVA is overall an accepting community but they say it only takes one incident like this to threaten their sense of security. UVA Queer Student Union members say they are done tolerating hateful attacks on grounds. Wo Chan, a member of the UVA Queer Student Union said, "I'm just outraged that this could still happen, that there are people out there that think it's OK to just assault someone because of their sexual identity." Thursday's attack was not the first of its kind at UVA. In 2009, a student was attacked on Stadium Road by five young men who were yelling homosexual slurs. Representatives from the UVA Queer Student Union say that this time education is key to keeping these events from happening in the future. Katie Mayfield, a member of the queer student union stated, "We're actually planning self-defense training at an upcoming workshop for the Queer Student Union." Chan said, "We have to find a way to reach out to the greater UVA community not just the LGBT community." These students say the first step in getting the word out was making sure police alerted the UVA community of the crime. Mayfield said, "I found out about the hate crime on Friday night, about a day after it had happened and an e-mail still hadn't gone out to the student body, which was a problem, of course, because the person who had attacked the student was still out there." It took more than 24 hours before UVA Police Chief Michael Gibson sent the email alert to students Saturday morning. Mayfield said, "It's clear that this is not the last event of its kind that's going to happen, and so hopefully we'll be able to equip people better to handle it in the future." UVA police were not available for comment Sunday, but they have urged anyone with information on this attack to call them at 434-924-7166 or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000. The University of Virginia Police Department released a statement to the University community that read in part, “The University of Virginia Police Department is investigating an assault that occurred near Brooks Hall on Nov. 15, at approximately 10:15 p.m. This crime appears to have been motivated by bias based on slurs spoken by the suspect to the victim regarding the victim's sexual orientation just moments before the assault. The suspect, who was walking with a group of people, struck the victim in the face and then continued on foot towards the Corner. The victim was treated for injuries at Elson Student Health. The suspect is described as a white male with light, dirty blond hair and facial hair, possibly a goatee. He is approximately 5 feet 10 inches tall and weighs between 150 and 160 lbs. At the time of the incident he was wearing a t-shirt with a UVA logo and possibly a hoodie. Anyone having information related to this incident should call the University Police at 434-924-7166 or Crime Stoppers at 434-977-4000. You may also provide information through the Silent Watch Program at, or by email to Hate crimes are illegal, unacceptable, and hurt everyone in a community. Follow these Sexual-Orientation Hate Crime Prevention tips from the National Crime Prevention Council. Report hate crimes immediately to the police by calling 911 or by using one of the reporting methods listed at this link, Don't leave an establishment with a stranger. Arrange a future date in a public place with friends. Never agree to meet someone, in-person, you just met online. Avoid using alcohol or drugs that can impair your judgment. Trust your instincts. Remove yourself from unsafe situations. Avoid walking alone and late at night. Be aware of your surroundings when leaving a bar, meeting, or organization routinely targeted by hate groups.

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