SUNY Albany Students Who Claimed Racial Attack Will Be Charged for Assault and False Reporting

Jason Silverstein, NY Daily News, February 25, 2016

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The students will be arrested about four weeks after allegedly assaulting a passenger on a city bus, then lying about what happened, leading to national outrage over an apparently fabricated story.

The three students–Alexis Briggs, from Huntington, Ariel Agudio, from Elmira Heights, and Asha Burwell, from Huntington Station–will be charged with third-degree assault, police said. Agudio and Burwell will also be charged for falsely reporting the incident.

The women, who are all 20 and African-American, claimed on Jan. 30 that up to a dozen white classmates spewed racial insults and ganged up on them on a bus.

The alleged assault led to a massive rally on campus, and supporters nationwide used the hashtag #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany to show solidarity online. Hillary Clinton tweeted about it, writing: “There’s no excuse for racism and violence on a college campus.”

But police said an investigation revealed there was only one victim: A 19-year-old woman from Congers, N.Y., who was beaten by Briggs, Ahudio and Burwell.

“The evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them,” police said in a statement.

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Witness interviews and surveillance footage also indicated the students were never “targeted in any manner due to their race,” police said. But they may have done so to their victim.

“The only person we heard uttering racial epithets was one of the defendants.” police said, not specifying the victim’s race.

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