“It’s disappointing and saddening”
Fake hate crimes have been relatively common in recent years; indeed, there is even a Twitter hashtag, #FakeHate, devoted to the topic. The DC Caller has a handy list of fake hate crimes reported on U. S. campuses in 2015 alone.
A recent case at SUNY Albany is now being resolved in light of the revelation that the supposed victims were actually the aggressors.
Some background: In January of this year, three black UAlbany students claimed to have been victimized by a group of white men who attacked and used racial slurs against them while the (white) bus passengers sat and watched. The outrage was such that rallies were held and social media melted down, with even Hillary Clinton deigning to comment before any facts were known.
Yet the incident, as uncovered in the subsequent investigation, was not a racist attack . . . at least not as described by the “victims.”
[W]hat seemed to be the latest iteration of a now-familiar debate about race on campus — the protests, the anguished soul-searching, the calls for greater faculty diversity and administrative changes — has metastasized into a controversy of an even more scorching kind: the allegation, the authorities said, was a lie.
Surveillance videos did not support the accounts of the young women, Ms. Burwell, Alexis Briggs and Ariel Agudio. Neither did the statements of multiple fellow passengers. Rather than being victims of a hate crime, the authorities said, the women had been “the aggressors,” hitting a 19-year-old white woman on the bus.
All three pleaded not guilty on Monday to misdemeanor assault charges; Ms. Burwell and Ms. Agudio, who publicized the episode through Twitter, also pleaded not guilty to charges of making a false report. The judge who oversaw the arraignment called the charges, if proved, “shameful.”
Watch the video from the bus surveillance camera:
The students at UAlbany are not amused and are concerned that this incident, likely paired with so many other such false allegations of racism, will hurt their cause by making such charges less believable in future.
The New York Times continues:
Many of their peers, however, saw the videos and charges as evidence of betrayal.
“It’s disappointing and saddening that somebody who seemed to be trying to help the movement would be the one to set it back,” said Lauren Hospedales, a freshman, referring to Ms. Burwell. She said she was worried that “it’ll be harder for people to believe and support” minority women in similar situations in the future.
Yet, Ms. Hospedales added, “We needed her to get that conversation started, so it wasn’t a waste of time.”
. . . . [A]lready, students said, their classmates — on Twitter, on the anonymous bulletin-board app Yik Yak and in passing remarks — had turned from conversations about discrimination and diversity to snickering about what they saw as the young women’s lies.
“I feel like they kind of messed it up for the rest of us,” Olivia Bishop, a junior, said on Tuesday. “It’s like, I stood up for you, and now to figure out that you wanted this whole thing to be a hoax, it’s disappointing. It’s just honestly the saddest thing in the world.”
Perhaps people can learn from this incident, if not from the many others before it, that faking hate is not only counter-productive but can make any real allegations suspect in the future.