Three black female college students in Albany have been accused of assault after originally claiming they had been the victims of a racist attack from “10-12 white men” on a city bus. The alleged attack happened on January 30th and Ariel Agudio, Alexis Briggs and Asha Burwell (all 20) claimed that they were the victims of a racist attack. However, after the videotape was reviewed the police found that it was the three students who allegedly initiated the attack and then participated in rallies denouncing racism in America. Hillary Clinton tweeted support for the women in their claim as victims of racist.
Investigators say a review of multiple videos of the incident showed no evidence the women were victims of a crime or subjected to racial slurs. In fact, police said the women were the aggressors, assaulting a 19-year-old white woman. The white men involved claimed assaulted them were actually trying to break up the fight. The police concluded that “[t]he evidence indicates they were actually the aggressors in the physical altercation, and that they continued to assault the victim despite the efforts of several passengers to stop them.”
University of Albany officials announced that two of the women, Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell, have been charged with misdemeanor assault and falsely reporting an incident. The third woman, Alexis Briggs, has been charged with misdemeanor assault.
One of the students, Asha Burwell, was due to graduate in 2017 and is pre-law. She and her friends reportedly said that up to a dozen “white men” attacked them without cause. Burwell, a junior from Long Island and student manager of the women’s basketball team, tweeted “I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the ‘n’ word and NO ONE helped us.”
In addition to the message from Clinton, the President of the University issued the following statement:
Dear Students, Faculty and Staff:
Early this morning, three of our students were harassed and assaulted while riding on a CDTA bus on Western Ave. in Albany.
The students, who are Black women, stated that racial slurs were used by the perpetrators, whom they described as a group of 10 to 12 white males and females.
I am deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident. There is no place in the UAlbany community for violence, no place for racial intolerance and no place for gender violence.
I am out of town today. I have decided to cut my trip short and will be returning to Albany as soon as I can to address this situation.
In the meantime, I have been in direct contact with the Provost and executive leadership team and have directed that the University respond rapidly and forcefully.
Our police, our student affairs personnel and our Office of Diversity and Inclusion staff are working together to support our young women.
We are working closely with the Albany Police Department to identify the persons responsible. If those individuals are UAlbany students, we will hold them fully accountable for their behavior.
I call upon all members of the University at Albany to unite. We must show the world that we stand for inclusiveness and stand against bias, violence and hatred.
Our annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. celebration will be held on the evening of Monday, Feb. 1. As we reflect on the principles and values that Dr. King stood for, let us come together in solidarity to reaffirm our values.
Now is the time to recommit to our principles of inclusivity and diversity and send a strong message that we will not tolerate bias, hatred and violence in our University.
Robert J. Jones
Jones later said that the false statements of the women were “unsettling.”
Here is the videotape and it certainly appears to contradict the claims of the three students that they were attacked by 10-12 white men.
The charges are only misdemeanors which seem a bit light for an assault on a bus and then falsely accusing others of a hate crime. However, Burwell’s interest in becoming a lawyer would be more challenging and unlikely if she is convicted of these charges.