Call it a Hate Crime
Call it a Hate Crime
The Cary Police Department fails to protect me and my community.
On Wednesday, March 24th, a Chinese and Iranian man were verbally and physically assaulted on the White Oak Creek Greenway in what they reported as racially-motivated attacks. The perpetrator threw punches, a water bottle, spit, and also yelled for these victims to, “go back,” while the victims were peacefully walking on a trail, one speaking on the phone in his native language, Farsi. There were others on the trail, yet, the victims, “appeared to be the only ones this jogger cared about.” And only two days later, the Cary police decided race and ethnicity were not factors in the crime and have let the attacker go without any charges, declaring he was in a, “mental health crisis.”
Here are quotes from high school students and residents in Cary in reaction to this incident:
“I run on a trail everyday, and that specific trail (White Oak Creek) happens to be 10 minutes away from me. Now when I run, I must constantly be on the lookout for another danger because it could happen to my trail as well.” - Megan Liu (Freshman at Green Level High School)
“I used to be under the impression that racism in the form of harassment was not as prevalent in place like White Oak, but I was so startled when I saw this happen right in our community.” - Sapna Kamath (Junior at GLHS)
“I was biking on the trail just 2 days prior to the attack, and I had planned to take my mom there not long after. Two days later, I opened up the news and I was shocked to see the headlines - I even recognized the same spot the video was taken. Now, my mom repeatedly expresses concern when I go out biking alone.” - Emily Chen (Junior at Panther Creek High School)
“The runner had no right to harass the walkers verbally for one, but physically is to a whole new extent of harassment…Being known as an Iranian Muslim woman makes me feel unsafe in a community that I thought was known for being open to all culture and races. This man needs to be charged for the safety of other people.” - Pegah Montazeri (Junior at PCHS)
“Recently my family and I have been living everyday in fear of going out. My family and I were supposed to visit some places over this spring break but had to cancel because of how scared my little sister was of getting attacked. Something has to be done because minorities feel as though they are not safe in their own home.” - Kate Song (Junior at PCHS)
Though mental health illnesses and crises must be taken seriously, they do not equate to racism. Having a mental health crisis does not excuse targeting and physically assaulting people of color. This incident must be recognized as a deliberate hate crime. What may seem harmless now can spiral unchecked.
Cary is home for us. It is where our closest friends are and warmest memories were made. But what is a home where we fear for our immigrant mother’s life when she goes for a jog? What is a home where someone who physically assaults people of color is left with no criminal charges? What is a home where our family and friends of color tell us they are desensitized, hurting, and scared from these attacks? What is a home where we don’t feel safe?
If the Cary Police Department really wants to ensure that Cary “remains one of the nation's safest cities,” and prove that they value trust and ethical behavior, they must let us know racist attacks are condemned and will not go without consequences. This decision serves as a precedent for the future, and it must be clear that the police and community condemn hateful behavior like this. They must let us know that we are safe in the place we call home by charging the perpetrator and recognizing this attack as a hate crime.
- Aida Guo, Emily Chen, and Sofia Azam (High school juniors residing in Cary, NC)