Assault of Ethiopian male investigated as hate crime

32-year-old Ethiopian man fell victim to an alleged hate crime outside the Davis Amtrak station. (ANGELICA DAYANDANTE / AGGIE)
32-year-old Ethiopian man fell victim to an alleged hate crime outside the Davis Amtrak station. (ANGELICA DAYANDANTE / AGGIE)

Incident at Davis Amtrak station second hate crime in eight days

A 32-year-old Ethiopian man was the victim of an alleged hate crime outside the Davis Amtrak station on Feb. 22. The suspect, described as a white 40-to-50-year-old man, was possibly intoxicated as he was witnessed holding a bottle at the time of the attack.

According to a report on Davis Vanguard, the police stated that the assault was unprovoked. The victim was sitting on a bench at the station when the attack occurred.

The suspect allegedly “approached [the victim] and made an unprovoked and racially derogatory comment towards him,” said Davis police in the Davis Vanguard report.

The police stated that the suspect kicked the victim in the shin and pushed him down. The victim lost his balance and fell onto a nearby bench. Although the victim suffered minor scrapes and bruises, he declined medical attention.

Due to the nature of this incident and the derogatory language used, the police are not only assessing this attack as assault and battery, but also as a hate crime.

Richard Barajas, retired chief justice and executive director of the National Organization for Victim Assistance (NOVA), heard about the Davis attack shortly after it had occurred.

“When you have a crime like that committed with racial or ethnic overtones and is part of the reason why the crime occurred, it is classified as a hate crime in most states, including California,” Barajas said.

Barajas went on to explain that racially motivated crimes have become more prevalent nationwide. Out of all the hate crimes reported in 2014, 48.3 percent were racially motivated, and 62.7 percent of those hate crimes were Anti-Black or based on African American prejudice. Davis alone has seen at least three hate crimes this past February.

The Black Under Attack movement released a statement on its Facebook page, commenting on the hate crime at the Amtrak station and another recent incident.

“Within the span of a week, we witnessed two hate crimes occur that were directed toward members of the African Diaspora. We stand by our statement that members of the Black community do not feel safe,” said Black Under Attack leaders on the Facebook page.

The other hate crime refers to an incident that took place just eight days before the occurrence at the Amtrak station. In another allegedly unprovoked attack, an African American female student of UC Davis was assaulted by a group of three Caucasian males. The males, from West Sacramento, were also reportedly intoxicated. This confrontation is also being investigated as a hate crime, due to the racial epithets and derogatory terms used against the victim.

The Amtrak hate crime also occurred shortly before a video went viral of an elderly African American male verbally abusing another African American UC Davis graduate on a Unitrans bus.

With hate crimes on the rise, many students feel uneasy and unsure of what to do to resolve the problem and keep the community safe.

“When you look in terms of the educational environment, so much of it is having opportunities to show each other, whether it’s through athletics or social events, that we are all in the same boat,” Barajas said. “Regardless of religion or sexual orientation or ethnicity, we are not lesser people [because of it].”

The suspect involved in the Davis Amtrak attack is described as a white male, 40 to 50 years old, medium build, approximately 5’7” in height, with short brown hair and a mustache. Anyone with information about this case may contact the Davis Police Department at (530) 747-5400.

Written By: SAMANTHA SOLOMON & BIANCA ANTUNEZ – city@theaggie.org