Thursday, October 16, 2008

Latest Attacks On Columbia Students Raise Question, Is Race A Factor In Recent Assaults?

Last week NYC The Blog reported on a mugging of a young man in Hamilton Heights, describing the victim as a "petite Asian man," which prompted a commenter to write, "Good to know it was a petite Asian man. I'm a petite white man, so I can be confident it would never happen to me. While we're identifying races, can you say what race the assailants were?"

Though the comment was dripping with sarcasm, it appears that not being Asian might serve the commenter well considering the latest rash of assaults last Sunday night around 113th and Broadway. The Columbia Spectator reports that seven Columbia students were assaulted, with Fox 5 wondering if the race of the victims played any role, noting that six of the students attacked were Asian. The photo at right captures the assailants on security cameras.

UPDATE: The NY Post is reporting that four kids have been arrested and charged with the assaults."The suspects - Deshaun Busby, 16, of Brooklyn; Lawrence Jones, 17, of The Bronx; Quentin Cox, 16, and Jan Germosen, 18, both of Manhattan - were charged with gang assault for allegedly participating in five attacks in a span of 17 minutes."

These assaults bring to mind an attack earlier this year in the same neighborhood that ended fatally when Columbia University graduate student Minghui Yu was assaulted during an attempted mugging. He fought his attackers off and ran into the street in an attempt to escape, when he was struck by a car and died later from those injuries.

Are the victims being targeted because of their race? Are these assaults the result of class frictions or town vs gown animosity? Likely that are three considerations have a role, as 'greaser vs socs' is a universal lubricant for antagonistic relationships between groups in any neighborhood, whether predicated on race, class, gender, or sexual orientation.

Or maybe there is a simpler explanation, as one of 84 comments noted on the Daily News' site when they reported the most recent attacks, observing that "Getting popped in the mouth has been a right of passage for Columbia students for 30 years. It's a pretty fair exchange for a life of privilege after college."

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