Three black women at SUNY Albany who claimed they were attacked in a racially charged bus incident are now facing assault charges. Asha Burwell, Alexis Briggs and Ariel Agudio —pleaded not guilty to misdemeanor assault on Monday. In their initial reports, the women alleged that a group of white people on a bus headed to campus used racial slurs and attacked them, in an incident that seemed to mirror previous instances of campus racism.
The event led to a rally on campus and waves of social media support, including from Hillary Clinton.
The New York Times reports: Surveillance videos did not support the accounts of the young women, Ms. Burwell, Alexis Briggs and Ariel Agudio. Neither did the statements of multiple fellow passengers. Rather than being victims of a hate crime, the authorities said, the women had been “the aggressors,” hitting a 19-year-old white woman on the bus.
There's no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus. https://t.co/ADVghl4iEv -H
— Hillary Clinton (@HillaryClinton) February 4, 2016
Many are demanding that Clinton delete her tweet about the attack. Others are disappointed and fear that this instance of false accusations may overshadow serious cases of racism on campus.
“People were forced to think about things that they didn’t think about, maybe, before,” said Amberly Carter, a coordinator at the university’s Multicultural Resource Center who helped organize the rally. “So do we now stop defending black women because of what happened?”
Still, there’s debate over whether the less than two minute video released tells the full story of what could have provoked the women in the first place.
According to The NY Times, police experts have been working to extract clearer audio from the recordings, viewers have noted that it is difficult to determine what is happening in the chaotic, noisy crowd depicted in the footage.
SUNY Albany freshman Lauren Hospedales told the NYT, “It’s disappointing and saddening that somebody who seemed to be trying to help the movement would be the one to set it back.”
What do you think really happened?