The federal government is opening up a hate crime investigation of a 19-year-old male Indiana University student who allegedly shouted racial slurs and assaulted a Muslim woman. On October 22, FBI Special Agent Wendy Osborne said there is no deadline for concluding the investigation into the October 17 on the Bloomington, Indiana, campus. Osborne said that the investigation started on October 20. "The FBI will collect all available facts and evidence and ensure the investigation is conducted in a fair, thorough and impartial manner," said Osborne to the media. "We will conduct the investigation as expeditiously as possible."
Triceton Bickford of Fort Wayne, Indiana, is facing multiple felony counts already, having been charged inter alia with intimidation, strangulation and battery. The charges stem from an alleged attack on a 47-year-old woman outside a cafe. Bloomington is about 50 miles southwest of Indianapolis.
An affidavit contends that a Muslim woman was with her 9-year-old daughter at the cafe when Bickford allegedly came from an alley nearby crying "white power" and "kill the police," in addition to racist remarks. He allegedly seized the woman by the neck and forced her head forward. He then also tried to remove her headscarf, police say, and thus restricting her breathing. A bystander and the woman's husband rushed to her aid and overpowered the alleged attacker.
The University of Indiana expelled Bickford after reports of the incident emerged and before any conviction for the alleged crime. On October 18, Bickford was released from a county jail on a bond of $705 bond, as well as other fees. He is scheduled to be in court on October 23 in Monroe County.
For his part, Bickford claims to not remember the incident. He said that he had been under the influence of alcohol, and that he had not taken his prescribed anti-anxiety medication. The court records show that Bickford does not yet have legal counsel.
The Islamic Center of Bloomington
is calling on women of the wider community to join the Muslim community in a demonstration at the Sofra Café on the evening of October 23. Women are being asked to wear a headscarf, as many pious Muslim women do, to show solidarity. In a statement on its website, the Islamic Center said "We condemn the incident as an act of hate, born from a lack of education on Islam and its teachings. While we hope this is an isolated incident and know Bloomington as a civil and safe city of cultural diversity, we pray that the police, judicial system, news media, and our community will use this terrifying attack as an opportunity to spread awareness that Muslims have rights that should continue to be respected, that Islam is a religion of tolerance and peace, and that hate crimes are unacceptable in any form and should be treated as such." The center offers classes on Islam to non-Muslim inquirers.
Apart from certain classes of people (such as police, firefighters, teachers, the elderly), in most cases nationwide simple assault is a misdemeanor punishable by six months to one year in jail, depending on the specific provisions of each state’s sentencing statute or sentencing guidelines. However, the federal statute for hate crime sets a maximum 10-year prison sentence for most cases. According to the CriminalDefenseLawyer website
, in most cases the sentence for aggravated battery would mean one year in jail. This would cover, for example, battery of the above class of protected people, or in cases of permanent disfigurement or the use of a deadly weapon such as a firearm.
FBI statistics show that some ethnic communities have been charged more often than others with federal hate crimes. According to a 2013 FBI crime report
, 24.3% of all hate crime offenders were black. According to the 2010 census, blacks make up 12.6% of the U.S. population.
Here below is an excerpt from the 2013 FBI report
In 2013, race was reported for 5,814 known hate crime offenders. Of these offenders:
52.4 percent were White.
24.3 percent were Black or African American.
7.0 percent were groups made up of individuals of various races (Group of Multiple Races).
0.8 percent (49 offenders) were American Indian or Alaska Native.
0.7 percent (40 offenders) were Asian.
0.1 percent (3 offenders) were Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander.
14.8 percent were unknown.
The ethnicity was reported for 368 known hate crime offenders. Of these:
54.1 percent were in the ethnic category Not Hispanic or Latino.
6.3 percent were groups made up of individuals of various ethnicities (Group of Multiple Ethnicities).
3.3 percent were Hispanic or Latino.
36.4 percent were of unknown ethnicity.
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