Rachel Kruer, Michigan Daily (Ann Arbor), Sept. 26
While the alleged felony of ethnic intimidation that involved a University student urinating on two Asian students continues to enrage student organizations on campus, the suspects and their neighbors say the Ann Arbor Police Department and the media have exaggerated the incident.
The AAPD reported that along with urinating on an Asian man and woman passing by his apartment on Sept. 15, the 20-year-old male suspect and his roommate threw objects and screamed racial slurs at the couple. University President Mary Sue Coleman condemned the incident to the entire student body last Thursday via e-mail after faculty members urged the administration to take action.
But neighbors of the accused student are insisting that no one was urinated on, no racial slurs were used and no objects were thrown at the alleged victims.
However, the accused said this incident was completely and illogically misinterpreted as a racially motivated act. The student accused of urinating on the two Asian students stressed that it is nearly impossible to urinate off their balcony. The fence around it is about five feet high, made of wood with only half an inch slit between the boards, where the suspect allegedly urinated through onto the couple. In order for someone to urinate off the balcony someone would have to be standing on a chair, the suspect said. He added that there is also a set of bike racks immediately under their apartment so it is difficult to walk directly under the balcony.
The student suspected of urinating on the couple said the night started off in typical fashion with only him and his roommate hanging out on the balcony playing beer pong. While an Asian couple walked by, his roommate tossed a beer absentmindedly over the side of the balcony.
The roommate insisted that it was a coincidence that he threw the beer while the couple was walking by, but he said it was at least seven or eight feet away from them.
“I’m almost positive nothing hit them,” he said.
Both of the accused said that in response the Asian male used profanities and flicked a Dunhill cigarette at them, which hit one the suspects, a 21-year-old male, in the arm.
Amused by the gesture, the 21-year old male said he picked up the cigarette and started smoking it. Both admitted to exchanging profanities, but none involving racial epithets.
After a few minutes of arguing, the accused said the couple walked around the corner leading them to believe the incident was over.
However, the incident escalated when they said the Asian male showed up approximately 45 minutes later with four other male friends. The Asian female was not present.
The accused said that the five men were yelling at them to come downstairs and fight.
“If you show up with five people against two, how can you turn around and say your were ethnically intimidating them. It was five to two — he brought a gang to our apartment,” the 21-year-old male said.
The 20-year-old male said he went downstairs to try to resolve the issue, because the Asian student believed he threw the beer intentionally at them. However, the suspect said there was only more yelling, and he decided to go back inside.
The 20-year-old suspect said that even though there were five men, he was not afraid to leave his apartment because it was a Thursday night and the streets were illuminated. He left and went to use the ATM and get a pack of cigarettes around 11:45 p.m.
When he returned the men were still waiting for him. Another exchange of profanities ensued — yet the accused said they never used a racial slur. When one of the five men below was yelling at them in Korean, the 20-year-old male said, “You are going to have to speak English. I don’t understand you.” To this one of men replied, “Why don’t you learn to speak Korean, bitch.”
The 21-year-old male said at one point during the exchange, he was referred to as “white fat American piggy.”
The 20-year-old male said he was throwing the water off his balcony to clean out the case of a keg. In no way was he aiming it at the men below he said.
Despite the outrage from the community, he said he still defends his innocence. “I’m curious as to why these five men who came to my residence and who have threatened my roommate and me have not been investigated. It appears that the administrators and student organizations have taken their words as the truth without hearing our sides of the story. We are innocent of these accusations,” he said.
Groups rally to action
Regardless of the outcome of the alleged felony, many student organizations across campus are planning events to end racial prejudice on the campus. Today, a meeting will be held at the William Monroe Trotter Multicultural Center at 5 p.m to discuss what actions the Asian community can take to resolve racial harassment on campus.