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Nov 22, 2013 02:22 PM EST

San Jose State University Community Holds Rally Following Arrest of Three Students For Hate Crimes Against Black Roomate


Students and faculty gathered on the San Jose State University (SJSU) campus Thursday to protest the treatment of a black student by his three white roommates, now suspended and facing criminal charges for hate crimes.

Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield, turned himself in Thursday. Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis and Colin Warren, 18, of Woodacre are expected to do the same this week. None wished to comment publicly on the matter.

According to the San Jose Mercury News, the publication that first broke the story, three white SJSU students were arrested Thursday and charged with misdemeanor hate crime charges. The school quickly suspended them and said they could be expelled pending a disciplinary hearing.

The three students lived in a dorm room suite with a black roommate. The three roommates allegedly held the black student captive by chaining a bike lock around his neck, as well as shutting him inside his own room. The three students also referred to him with racially charged names like "three-fifths" or "fraction," in reference to the Three-Fifths Compromise of 1787.

There have also been allegations swirling that two residence assistants knew about the Confederate flag hanging in the boys' room. Also reportedly in the room was Nazi imagery like swastikas and a portrait of Adolf Hitler.

In a news conference held by school officials, William Nance, the school's vice president of academic affairs, apologized for the terror the young man was put through.

"It's stunning to me that it would be able to continue for a period of time without somebody saying, 'This isn't right,'" Nance said. "Were there other actions that could have been taken? Perhaps."

The school administrator did not place blame anywhere, despite speculation the RAs told the students to take down their white supremacy paraphernalia.

Authorities said the harassment started in August, but the young man did not report it right away. In October, his father came to visit and noticed the photos and the flag, so he alerted the school. A spokeswomen for the school said two of the students eventually to be arrested were removed from the dorm suite. The third was believed to be a bystander until "very recently," she said.

Nance attended the rally, but attendees were upset at the absence of the school's president, Mo Qayoumi. He was out of state Thursday, but said in a statement he was "outraged and saddened" by the allegations.

The students rallied on campus next to statues of Tommie Smith and John Carlos, two of SJSU's most famous and important alums. Smith and Carlos, two track and field athletes, are depicted in the statue doing their famous "black power salute" from the 1968 Mexico City Olympic Games.

Many rally attendees raised their hands to signify they had experienced racism on campus and held their fists in the air to imitate the statues. But as Smith later wrote in his autobiography, the salute he and Carlos gave was intended to be a "human rights salute."

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