The University of Wisconsin-Madison Police Department issued hate crime charges against a Madison man for an incident with a UW-Madison student that occurred on Oct. 16 near the Nicholas Pavilion, according to a Wednesday news release.
Walking home from the Nicholas Recreation Center at approximately 6:45 p.m., a student of Asian descent was approached by Gary Stephens, 34, who proceeded to slap the victim’s phone from their hand — smashing it on the ground — and uttered a racial slur, UWPD stated. Stephens is not affiliated with the university.
This hate crime, one of several racially-charged incidents against Asian campus community members within the last year, reflects a surge of on-campus incidents since the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Using witness statements and security camera footage, the UWPD identified Stephens and he was arrested on Oct. 30 by the Madison Police Department on separate charges.
The UWPD referred disorderly conduct with a hate crime enhancer, criminal damage and bail jumping charges against Stevens on Monday, Nov. 1. Stephens appeared in Dane County Court Wednesday, Nov. 3.
Sophia Vento is the former editor-in-chief of The Daily Cardinal. She previously served as the college news editor. She has covered breaking campus, city, state and sports news, and written in-depth stories about health, culture and education. Any newsroom would be lucky to have Sophia on staff. Follow her on Twitter at @sophiasvento.