The Ann Arbor Police Department has issued warrants for two University students for allegedly yelling obscenities and urinating on two students in a racially motivated act.
The incident began when one of the suspects, a 21-year-old, allegedly urinated from a second-floor balcony on two Asian students walking down the 600 block of South Forest Avenue Thursday night.
After the couple asked why they were being urinated on, the suspect and another student reportedly began to use racial slurs disparaging the couple’s Asian heritage.
The situation escalated, according to a police report, when at least one student began throwing items, which the couple suspected were eggs, at the couple.
One of the students was immediately taken into custody. The other student who urinated on the couple, barricaded himself in the apartment, which the police could not enter without a warrant.
However, the AAPD knows the identity of the student, who could face jail time if prosecuted.
AAPD Lt. Michael Logghe classified the crime as ethnic intimidation, or verbal or physical attack against a person of another race or gender. Logghe said ethnic intimidation is a felony and carries a maximum penalty of four years in jail. The suspects could also be charged with assault, and one of the suspects could face a charge of indecent exposure, which would require him to register as a sex offender.
Keith Elkin, director of the Office of Student Conflict Resolution, said he could not comment on whether OSCR was handling the case.
However, he said crimes involving ethnic intimidation do not only break city law, but also violate the University’s code of conduct.
“We protect student rights and have the responsibility to talk to students,” Elkin said. “Also, we have the ability to consider if the violation was motivated by bias, in which (case) we could consider sanctioning a student.”
If OSCR were asked to intervene, Elkin said there were a range of consequences a perpetrator of ethnic intimidation could face, from a formal reprimand to expulsion from the University.
Sgt. Angela Abrams of the AAPD said the victims will likely prosecute.
The police report also included a statement from an independent witness – an employee at a parking structure on South Forest – who said she saw the men assault the couple.
The incident has galvanized members of the Asian community – some of whom have also faced the humiliation of ethnic intimidation first-hand.
Cindy Chuang, LSA senior and president of the Taiwanese American Student Association, said she was appalled and shocked that a fellow University student could be demeaned in public.
But she herself said she has experienced racial bias from fellow students, who she said were drunk when the incident occurred.
While walking down South University Avenue, Chuang said a group of students yelled, “Wow, you speak really good English” and “You talk with a white accent.”
LSA senior and former Korean Student Association President Paul Yun said he was disgusted by the incident but not surprised that it happened.
Yun said that he has also faced discrimination in Ann Arbor.
While using a public restroom at Good Time Charley’s, Yun said he was referred to as “Bruce Lee” and “Ching Chong.”
He also said that many of his friends have experienced similar incidents.
Yun said that the issue needs to be addressed immediately. He said he expected the United Asian American Organizations – an umbrella group for the Asian student groups on campus – would be the first to respond to the matter.
At the very least, Yun said this incident will call attention to a problem on campus and could potentially empower the Asian community to improve the climate for minority students at the University.