The UW-Madison Police Department received a report about a possible anti-Asian hate crime that occurred on July 4.
A UW staff member of Asian descent was running along the Lakeshore Path when a man yelled a racial slur from a vehicle, then got out of the vehicle to approach the victim. The suspect was later identified as Tom Gbean, 28, of Oswego, IL.
The victim reported he feared for his safety, according to the incident report. He was able to flee from the suspect and scene.
UWPD referred the case to the Dane County District Attorney’s Office as disorderly conduct and requested a hate crime enhancer to be added to the charge.
A hate crime enhancer can be added to a charge when a crime is committed with proof that it was committed because of the victim’s race, religion, sexual orientation, etc., according to UWPD spokesperson Marc Lovicott.
This recent incident follows a string of attacks involving assaults on the Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American (APIDA) communities that occurred earlier this summer in Madison.
Reports of violent and potentially racially motivated attacks prompted fear among the APIDA community, and many gathered to protest at the Capitol on June 24.
The Associated Students of Madison (ASM) recently hosted an emergency meeting to address these recent events. Students in the APIDA community expressed their concerns and thoughts on the violence to university administrators and UWPD members.
“We are trying our hardest to dedicate resources to shedding light on the recent AAPI violence on campus,” ASM Press Office Director Meghan Savaglia said.
Savaglia explained that ASM hopes to continue to host open forum based meetings in the fall to formulate a dialogue between university administrators and the student body.
“These are incredibly pressing issues … We are putting our resources where possible to support them — and hope to expand this once the Fall 2022 semester begins,” Savaglia stated.
Though the Madison community could perceive the incidents in June as targeted, police reports describe that there is no evidence of racial motivation so far and each attack appears random. The Madison Police Department has identified and arrested the group responsible for the attacks.