Posted by: noticeable | January 25, 2007

CAIR: Three Palestinian students attacked over the weekend at North Carolina college

The Council on American Islamic Affairs released on 24 January 2007 the following report concerning the beating of three Palestinian students at a North Carolina college with Quaker roots. The College’s response to the attack can be found here.

CAIR’s Piece:

NC: VICTIM CALLS ATTACK ‘HATE CRIME’

Two of the three Palestinian students attacked over the weekend at Guilford College spoke out Tuesday as school officials shed more light on the incident police are treating as a racially motivated assault.

In a statement and during an afternoon news conference, college officials said:

-The attack occurred at 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the courtyard outside Bryan Hall dormitory.
-At least some of the students involved were “under the influence of alcohol.”
-Some students involved were acquaintances and residence hall neighbors with no history of conflict.

Criminal charges were filed the next day, which led to arrests Monday.

“It was the most horrific experience of my life,” N.C. State student Omar Awartani, one of the Palestinians, said Tuesday during a phone interview.

“This was a horrible, unprovoked hate crime.”

Student accounts of the assault vary greatly, and the college stressed in its statement Tuesday that the cause is not yet known. But court documents say up to 15 members of Guilford’s football team attacked the students with fists, feet and brass knuckles while using racial slurs.

Michael Bates, of Reidsville; Michael Robert Six, of Clemmons; and Christopher Barnette, of Semora, were arrested in connection with the attack.

Barnette is the second NCAA Division III All-America player in the school’s history and is considered an NFL prospect.

Six is the team’s second leading tackler.

Bates and Six were charged with three counts of assault and battery each. Barnette was charged with two counts of assault and battery. All three were charged with ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor that can carry a sentence of up to 120 days in jail for each count.


Reports from a Greensboro, North Carolina newspaper:

Student charged in attack says he’s treated unfairly

Beneath today’s updates is a story from this morning’s News & Record.

9:50 p.m.: The three charged athletes, as well as the two Palestinian students involved who attend Guilford College, are currently not living on campus at the school’s request while the incident is investigated, college officials said Wednesday.

Those who could not find a place to stay were offered hotel rooms at the school’s expense.

Guilford President Kent Chabotar said officials didn’t want to make that decision, hoping extra security would be enough to keep the two groups separated and assure everyone’s safety. But he said by Tuesday it was apparent that wasn’t enough.

“We needed to clear the air to get our investigation finished,” Chabotar said in an emotional address during the forum attended by a few hundred students and community members. “Most of all, we needed to assure the safety of all of our students on campus.”

4:36 p.m.: About 300 people — many wearing red sashes that read “stop hate” — walked across the quad at Guilford College Wednesday afternoon as part of a candlelight vigil and Quaker worship service in response to an assault on campus last week.

Participants said they hoped their actions would promote peace and unity at the small liberal arts college.

“I’m hopeful that the response is healing for the college community, that we’ll find ways to take actions that reflect what our beliefs,” said Anna Oerther, an assistant professor of education studies, as she tried to protect her flickering candle from the chilly breeze.

“I’m glad there are a lot of people here,” said Julie Burke, a visiting assistant professor in the education studies department. “It shows we have a sense of community and faith in ourselves to resolve our problems.”

When they arrived at Dana Auditorium, students, faculty and other members of the Guilford community quietly collected their thoughts or prayed, according to the Quaker tradition for the silent worship.

“We’re not here to blame anyone,” said one of the student leaders. “We’re here to make a prayer for peace.”

Some sat with their legs crossed or hugged against their chests, their faces warmed by the afternoon sun. Others stood with heads bowed and eyes closed in solemn contemplation. Then, during the next hour, about 25 people stood and spoke as they felt led. Many talked about the need for unity and taking personal responsibility for peace.

4:25: One of the three Guilford College football players charged with attacking three Palestinian students said Wednesday afternoon that he was not being treated fairly.

Asked if he thought he was being treated fairly for his role in Saturday’s attack, senior Christopher Barnette replied, “Nope. No way.” He declined to elaborate. Michael Bates, another student charged, declined comment. The third student charged, Robert Six, could not be reached.

All three players face assault and ethnic intimidation charges after an attack on three Palestinian students, authorities said.

The victims were beaten with fists, feet and brass knuckles early Saturday by attackers who called them “terrorists” and used racial slurs, according to court documents.

They were released on $2,000 bail.

Court documents said at least 15 members of the football team were present. Their role is unclear.

• • •

Today’s newspaper story by Joe Killian & Lanita Withers
Staff Writers

GREENSBORO — Two of the three Palestinian students attacked over the weekend at Guilford College spoke out Tuesday as school officials shed more light on the incident police are treating as a racially motivated assault.

In a statement and during an afternoon news conference, college officials said:

* The attack occurred at 12:30 a.m. Saturday in the courtyard outside Bryan Hall dormitory.

* At least some of the students involved were “under the influence of alcohol.”

* Some students involved were acquaintances and residence hall neighbors with no history of conflict.

* Criminal charges were filed the next day, which led to arrests Monday.

“It was the most horrific experience of my life,” N.C. State student Omar Awartani , one of the Palestinians, said Tuesday during a phone interview.

“This was a horrible, unprovoked hate crime.”

Student accounts of the assault vary greatly, and the college stressed in its statement Tuesday that the cause is not yet known. But court documents say up to 15 members of Guilford’s football team attacked the students with fists, feet and brass knuckles while using racial slurs.

Michael Bates, of Reidsville; Michael Robert Six, of Clemmons; and Christopher Barnette, of Semora , were arrested in connection with the attack.

Barnette is the second NCAA Division III All-America player in the school’s history and is considered an NFL prospect.

Six is the team’s second-leading tackler.

Bates and Six were charged with three counts of assault and battery each. Barnette was charged with two counts of assault and battery. All three were charged with ethnic intimidation, a misdemeanor that can carry a sentence of up to 120 days in jail for each count.

All three have been released on $2,000 bond.

Calls to those arrested were not returned Tuesday.

Awartani, 18, was visiting his friends Osama Sabbah and Faris Khader, two Guilford students. The three had attended a Quaker school in the West Bank city of Ramallah before coming to the United States.

“These people who beat me I had never seen before in my life,” Awartani said. “They just began insulting us, calling us ‘dirty,’ ‘terrorists’ and ‘sand niggers.’ We tried not to fight them; we did not insult them back, but they beat the hell out of us.”

Awartani said he suffered a concussion and had trouble walking for several days after the assault. He has returned to Raleigh to try to resume classes but said he remains in great pain. Sabbah, 19, said he has a concussion and nerve damage in his hand. No information on Khader’s condition was immediately available.

“The ones who attacked us, some of them live in my dorm, but I have never met them,” Sabbah said Tuesday. “I can’t tell you anything about why it happened.”

Guilford officials have said the arrested students will remain enrolled at least until the school’s judicial process is complete.

College President Kent Chabotar emphasized Tuesday that the school’s investigation is independent of law enforcement . He said Guilford will take its time and avoid “jumping to conclusions.”

“We need to get all the facts from every perspective and let the judicial process … take its course as expeditiously as possible,” Chabotar said in the statement.

On campus at Guilford, which has about 3,000 students, the assault and its aftermath were the main topic of conversation Tuesday. Emotions ran high.

Sophomore Nathan Ellis said students were shocked.

“It was kind of devastating,” he said. “It’s a real close community. It’s a real small school.”

Dozens of students Tuesday flooded a room set up for a news conference, seeking answers from the administration. College staffers let them enter, holding an impromptu closed-door meeting between students and Aaron Fetrow, Guilford’s dean for campus life.

Some students disputed the administration’s motives and information. Two students held up signs that read “LIAR” and “COVER UP” during the briefing. Later, the students held up signs calling the assault a hate crime. Fetrow said he isn’t ready to use that term.

“It was a very unfortunate conflict between students who knew each other,” he said. “Until the discovery is done, that’s a very powerful word to use before we know every fact.”

A community forum on the incident and student-organized candlelight vigil were in the works for today.

Many students expressed concern that their school — a Quaker college with a long history of diversity and social justice — was being portrayed in a bad light.

“I love Guilford College. It has such a great reputation for being open-minded,” senior Ryan Kitaif said. “It’s sad a couple of idiots gave our school a PR nightmare.”

“That’s not Guilford College,” he said. “We’re not like that at all.”

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