Doubts are surfacing about claims made by three female African American students at the University of Albany in New York over an alleged racist attack on a bus, supposedly by at least one dozen white students. According to the black students, white students assaulted them on January 30 and hurled racist epithets while punching and kicking them. The accusers also claimed that no one, including campus police officers and the bus driver, was moved to help them. "I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the 'n' word and nobody helped us," wrote one of the black students. Another wrote, "I got beat up by 20 people screaming racial slurs," adding that "a whole bunch of guys started hitting me and my two friends."

The reaction to the three black students' story quickly followed. Accusations and threats swirled in the aftermath of the report of the attack. Tyreek Burwell, a member of the San Diego Chargers football team, even threatened one of the white students alleged to be involved. That white student appears to have dropped out of the university. University of Albany President Robert Jones said he was "deeply concerned, saddened and angry." Then hundreds of students rallied in support of the three black students. Asha Burwell, one of the accusers, told the media as tears ran down her face, "We are proud of who we are. As black women, we are shocked, upset, but we will remain unbroken." Hundreds of people turned out at a rally in support of the accusers. Even Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton weighed in. She tweeted that there is “no excuse for racism on a college campus.”

As it turns out, the Albany County District Attorney’s office is examining security video taken by approximately 12 onboard cameras on the bus where the attack supposedly occurred. The videos appear to cast serious doubt on the claims made by the three black students. Also, police are looking at video captured via cellphones by witnesses. A cellphone video shows two females fighting, while there are fellow passengers surrounding them who are believed to be fellow UAlbany students returning to campus from downtown Albany. The cellphone video revealed no racists slurs, taunts, or cheers are heard.

Social justice activist Alice Green told the media that at a briefing at the DA’s office, she was told "that there were people of color on the bus and they're saying they didn't hear any racial slurs and they didn't see any group attack (the women)." Green said, "From what we were presented, it was difficult to see evidence, if there was evidence, of any of those things happening."

Video evidence appear to show that the women in question do not appear to be shown under assault by a group of people. While there was indeed a fight, it is not clear how it started. It appears to have involved few people. A white student sustained a black eye in the melee. Chris Churchill, a columnist for the Times-Union newspaper, wrote an article saying that if the accusations are found to be false, people will be less likely to credit claims of racist harassment and attacks.

Accuser Burwell appears to be unbowed over the recent developments. In a February 11 post on Twitter, she said that she will not give up. "The truth will come out soon," she wrote.




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Spero News writer Martin Barillas is a former US diplomat, who also worked as a democracy advocate and election observer in Latin America. His first novel 'Shaken Earth', is available at Amazon.

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