Two days after a University of La Verne student reported being attacked at a dorm, the Los Angeles chapter of the NAACP called for the FBI to investigate alleged racial incidents against ULV students.
Members of the civil rights group held a news conference in front of The Sara and Michael Abraham Campus Center on Thursday.
“We called upon the FBI to do a federal probe to investigate alleged hate crimes on campus. They have the experience, the expertise and the budget to mount an investigation as opposed to a small town police department and campus police,” Najee Ali, an activist and member of NAACP-LA, said during a phone interview Friday.
Ali said he was contacted by the victims and asked to advocate on their behalf with university officials who these students felt were not taking the racial incidents seriously. Ali said he and the vice president of the NAACP-LA, Latricia Mitchell, went to the university Thursday.
In addition to asking for a federal investigation, Ali said the NAACP-LA asked to meet with the university president.
“We have heard from University of La Verne administration officials who indicate they are more than willing to meet with us and students,” Ali said.
He said the NAACP-LA also plans to receive an update on all the investigations from the police department. Ali said Mitchell indicated she will be responsible for monitoring that.
Monitor in this case means getting updates on the investigations and keeping abreast of what is going on to make sure students are feeling safe, according to Latricia Mitchell.
“We just want to keep updated on what the university is doing and (updated) on the police investigation,” she said.
Mitchell said the NAACP went to the university because they were told about a student being attacked at one of the dorms.
“And the NAACP wants to make sure that everyone is treated fairly. Social justice for everyone and their rights protected,” Mitchell said.
“We welcome the interest of our local NAACP chapters in this matter and appreciate the work of the La Verne Police Department and FBI into the ongoing criminal investigation,” according to a university statement.
“The hateful acts involving our students are unacceptable, and we will continue to cooperate with law enforcement to identify the perpetrators and bring them to justice.”
The student who reported being attacked Tuesday, May 28, at a dorm by a man in a ski mask, also reported receiving a threat on social media on May 23, was the recipient of a threat on social media on Feb. 28 and saw smoke coming out of her backpack which was in her parked car on March 1. There is a second victim on the Feb. 28 incident.
The Feb. 28 threat included an image of a student protest, and the messages included racial and derogatory slurs, police said. On Feb. 20, a group of students held a protest to say they have been subjected to racially tinged incidents on campus over the past few months.
La Verne police Lt. Chris Dransfeldt said arson was ruled out on the March 1 incident. A phone inside the backpack overheated and the phone was next to some paper, he said.
La Verne police are investigating the threats, the smoking backpack and the attack at the dorm. Police said the FBI had been notified but wasn’t involved in these investigations.
“We are prepared to provide assistance to La Verne Police should they require it,” Laura Eimiller, spokeswoman for the FBI’s Los Angeles office, said.
But Eimiller said she cannot confirm or deny if anyone has called the FBI to start a federal investigation.
She said if people believe their civil rights were violated they can directly contact the FBI.
Graduations are this Friday and Saturday at the University of La Verne. Ricardo Menard and Fernando Armas were at the Third Street campus on Friday morning waiting for someone. They also had a commencement ceremony to attend later.
Menard said they commute to the university but are aware of the threats, the smoking backpack and the attack at the dorm due to emails and texts from the university. But he wasn’t aware the victim in all cases is the same student and did not know about the protests by students who claimed they were subjected to racially-tinged incidents at the university.
“For them (NAACP-LA) to come out here was pretty serious,” Menard said.
Unless there is credible information that the student who was attacked is staging the incidents, Armas thinks the student is being targeted.
“I feel they (police department) should look into it more. I don’t feel the FBI should be involved,” Armas said.
He feels a more thorough investigation by law enforcement is warranted. Having the FBI do an investigation sets a bad precedent, he added.
It’s not as if he doesn’t have sympathy for the victims because he does, according to Armas.
Giselle Zamora, a junior, transferred from Citrus College and this is her first semester at ULV. She likes how the campus is embedded in the city.
She said the campus is very good at telling students what is going on and also received the emails and texts. Zamora agrees that the FBI should be involved in the investigations.
“Just to see if the accusations the student is making is true,” she said.
Zamora believes the student who reported the threats and assault.
“I personally don’t know her. But I feel that people are not necessarily aware that just because it’s a nice campus it doesn’t necessarily mean there are no mean people,” she said.
This content was originally published here.