3 White SJSU Students that Bullied Black Student Convicted of Misdemeanor BatteryBy Russell Westerholm, UniversityHerald Reporter
Three white San Jose State University were not convicted on hate crime charges for locking a bike lock around a black classmate's neck and referring to him with a Confederate-era epithet.
According to NBC Bay Area, Colin Warren, 20; Logan Beaschler, 20; and Joseph "Brett" Bomgardner, 21, were convicted of misdemeanor battery, but the Santa Clara County Superior Court jury wound up deadlocked over the hate crime charge.
They stood accused of repeatedly bullying Donald Williams Jr., 17 at the time, in 2013 because he is black and they are white. The defendants reportedly displayed a Confederate flag in their shared suite at SJSU and referred to him as "three-fifths" and "fraction," per the 18th Century U.S. Consensus that counted black individuals as not being a whole person.
Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen acknowledged the bullying was racially charged, but did not rise to the level of being a hate crime.
"This violence did not happen in a historical vacuum," he said in a statement. "This violent act was done to a young black college student by five white men, an injustice inflicted upon him because of the color of his skin."
In the wake of Warren, Beaschler, and Bomgardner's arrests (a fourth person was charged as a minor), SJSU issued a public apology and established a task force to conduct a thorough review. A former judge named LaDoris Cordell headed the task force.
"I am saddened that 12 jurors could not agree that calling a black male 'Three-fifths' or 'Fraction,' or forcing a lock around his neck, or creating an environment promoting racism with Confederate memorabilia, or hearing how this young man was humiliated, amounted to a hate crime," he told The San Jose Mercury News. "This verdict demonstrates that we are a long way from living in a post-racist America."
The judge declared a mistrial on the hate crime charges, allowing for a new trial on those charges alone. The Williams family is also pursuing a lawsuit against the defendants.
"All four students who engaged in these acts are no longer enrolled at SJSU," interim president Sue Martin said in a statement. "The victim and his family are pursuing civil remedies independent of the criminal actions.
"Much work lies ahead as we seek to create a truly inclusive, welcoming and safe environment for every member of our community."