RALEIGH, N.C. — News of a racially motivated attack at Guilford College on three Palestinian students hit home at NC State, where Omar Awartani, one of the men who claimed they were assaulted, is a student.
Thursday night, the State campus took a stand against hate crimes with a “hate forum” that stressed tolerance.
Three Palestinian students reported they were assaulted by football players at Guilford College on Jan. 20., and a magistrate judge charged six players with misdemeanor assault and five with ethnic intimidation.
The incident surprised Ibraheem Khalifa. He thought people in North Carolina were more tolerant, he said.
“What I had hoped was that it was less likely for people to really take out some of their mis-directed anger at people like the incident that happened,” Khalifa said.>
The focus of the forum was unveiling the motives behind hate crimes and explaining how students can protect themselves.
Ayesha Ali was born and raised in the Triangle. She said knowledge can go a long way in promoting tolerance.
“I've heard some of my friends tell me about things that were said or done to them, things that were clearly a violation of rights. Just knowing what you can and cannot do, that'll be great.” Ali said.
NC State University campus police say hate crimes are rare, just three in the last five years. Two had to do with sexual orientation and the other was racially motivated. All involved some type of property damage.
Police believe, though, that more often than not, incidents that could be considered hate crimes go unreported. NCSU Police Chief Tom Younce and other officers were part of the dialogue Thursday.
“We want to make sure the victim has all the resources to recover. We also want to be in touch with the affected community to let them know there is a zero tolerance to hate crimes. We will address it and address it swiftly,” Sgt. Jon Barnwell said.