By Henry K. Lee
Three white San Jose State University students have been suspended and charged with hate crimes for allegedly bullying their African-American roommate by trying to clamp a bicycle lock around his neck, decorating their room with Nazi and Confederate symbols and taunting him with racist epithets, officials said Thursday.
Colin Warren, 18, of the Marin County town of Woodacre; Logan Beaschler, 18, of Bakersfield; and Joseph Bomgardner, 19, of Clovis; have each been charged with a misdemeanor hate crime and battery for incidents at their on-campus suite that targeted a then-17-year-old student.
The harassment lasted from August through October, said Erin West, a Santa Clara County deputy district attorney.
The defendants posted Nazi symbols in their residence in the high-rise Campus Village Building, along with photographs of Adolf Hitler and a Confederate flag, and wrote a racist epithet on a white board, authorities said.
They allegedly nicknamed their black roommate “three-fifths,” a reference to the Constitution’s original formula that counted slaves as three-fifths of a person for the purposes of House apportionment. When the student objected, they “resorted to calling him ‘fraction,’ ” West said.
At one point, the three tried to put a bike lock around the roommate’s neck, but he fought back, sustaining a minor injury, prosecutors said.
“We are all victimized when a criminal act targets someone because of their actual or perceived race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, sexual orientation, gender or disability,” West said.
Court dates have not been set for the three. If convicted, they face up to a year in jail.
San Jose State has suspended the students pending an ongoing investigation, William Nance, vice president of student affairs, said Thursday as hundreds of students joined a campus rally protesting the alleged abuse.
“I share the frustration, the sense of disgust,” Nance said.
University President Mohammad Qayoumi agreed, saying, “I am outraged and saddened by these allegations. They are utterly inconsistent with our long cherished history of tolerance, respect for diversity and personal civility.”