Alleged Attack on Palestinians Jars N.C. College Police in Greensboro, N.C., have arrested three Guilford College football players who are accused of taunting and beating three Palestinian students. Accounts of the incident differ.
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Alleged Attack on Palestinians Jars N.C. College

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Alleged Attack on Palestinians Jars N.C. College

Alleged Attack on Palestinians Jars N.C. College

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And three football players at a small Quaker college in Greensboro, North Carolina, have been accused of a violent act that some are calling a hate crime. The students at Guilford College have been charged with assault and ethnic intimidation for allegedly beating a group of Palestinian students.

NPR's Adam Hochberg reports.

ADAM HOCHBERG: At a school that embraces pacifism and goes out of its way to attract a diverse student body, allegations of ethnic violence are especially jarring. There are various accounts of exactly what happened outside a campus dorm around midnight Friday, but everyone agrees an altercation took place with several football players - some white, some black - injuring three Palestinian students. A number of witnesses say the Palestinians were targets of ethnic slurs.

Yesterday, on this quaint, usually quiet campus, some students had a hard time containing their rage.

Mr. JOSHUA SHELTON (Religious Studies): A hate crime occurred on Guilford campus, committed by Guilford students that has permanent, disastrous ramifications for the victims!

HOCHBERG: Religious Studies major Joshua Shelton was among several students who took turns standing on a wooden box in the center of campus, condemning the alleged violence. Later, students and professors walked through campus carrying small candles. Sophomore Landry Herman(ph) said she was shocked by news of the bloody fight.

Ms. LANDRY HERMAN (Student, Guilford College): I'm offended that this happened on the campus where Quaker values say we are understanding of all different types of people, we accept all different types of people, and we are pacifistic and we don't accept violence, and that we are an understanding place.

HOCHBERG: The three Palestinian students came to North Carolina after spending time at a Quaker school in Ramallah. Two are enrolled at Guilford; one was visiting from North Carolina State University. They wouldn't speak about the fight yesterday, but a relative of one of them says the football players taunted and beat them.

Jadah al-Jaqbir(ph) is the cousin of student Osama Sabbah.

Ms. JADAH AL-JAQBIR (Relative): Osama was leaving his dorm. He got attacked by three football players. They, all three of the Palestinian boys, suffered concussions and they were defending themselves. And in the process of defending themselves, they were called sand niggers. They were called terrorists. They were called camel jockeys.

HOCHBERG: After the Palestinians filed complaints this week, Greensboro police arrested three football players on misdemeanor charges of assault, battery, and ethnic intimidation. Meanwhile, college officials last night recommended disciplinary actions against five students. They say confidentiality rules prevent them from identifying the five, but note they investigated the behavior not just of the football players but of the Palestinians as well.

Dean for Campus Life Aaron Fetrow says the fight is dominating campus discussion this week, and has led the college to reaffirm its Quaker values.

Mr. AARON FETROW (Dean for Campus Life, Guilford College): We are having forums and silent meetings for worship to remember our peace testimony. And how did this happen here is the question that's I think stirring up a little regret on our campus.

HOCHBERG: How did it happen here?

Mr. FETROW: I think like it happens anywhere. There was some alcohol involved. There was some testosterone involved. Fights like this happen at campuses all over the country all the time.

HOCHBERG: Members of the Guilford football team refused to comment on tape about the altercation. But one player not among those charged said the fight was not as one-sided as the Palestinian students claim. The college is promising a deliberative judicial process, while Greensboro police say they're continuing their investigation of whether more criminal charges are warranted.

Adam Hochberg, NPR News.

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