New evidence appears to contradict statements by three Black students who say they were attacked on a University of Albany bus in January.
According to The New York Times, the details of the case are not confirmed and there is still pending information from recently released bus footage.
“Surveillance videos did not support the accounts of the young women, Asha Burwell, Alexis Briggs and Ariel Agudio. Neither did the statements of multiple fellow passengers. Rather than being victims of a hate crime, the authorities said, the women had been ‘the aggressors,’ hitting a 19-year-old white woman on the bus.”
Atlanta Blackstar reported initially that “the three Black female students were harassed and assaulted while riding on the #11 CDTA bus on Western Ave in Albany. The students stated that racial slurs were used by the perpetrators, whom they described as a group of 10 to 12 white males and females.”
The video shows that Burwell started an altercation with white bus riders. (However, the video had no audio and no one knows what prompted the altercation to begin with.)
This revelation was used as fuel for conservatives aiming at stopping the Black Lives Matter movement and stopping the “rampant political correctness” on college campuses.
“I walked away saying, ‘I can’t tell you what happened in that video; you haven’t shown me anything to confirm what these young women are saying, and I can’t deny it either, because it’s just not clear to me,’” said Alice Green, a social justice activist and the director of the Center for Law and Justice, based in Albany.
Green was one of several community and university leaders whom the district attorney invited to review the evidence before charges were brought.
“But once you lodge charges against someone,” she added, “in the minds of most people, that’s guilt.”
Local reports of the incident made its way into the national media spotlight almost immediately following the incident two months ago. Within a week, protesters at the university brought awareness to the alleged race attack. In addition, there was the #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany hashtag on Twitter to show solidarity nationwide.
“People were forced to think about things that they didn’t think about, maybe, before,” said Amberly Carter, a coordinator at the university’s Multicultural Resource Center who helped organize the rally. “So do we now stop defending Black women because of what happened?”
Monday, the three women appeared in court because of the new developments.
UAlbany authorities created a new timeline of the events that alleges that at 1:04 a.m., “Burwell climbed over a seat and struck Mary Glisson in the head and face with her hands. Burwell then struck Gabrielle Camacho with her fist on the left side of Camacho’s face, police said.”
The women pleaded not guilty to all charges, which ranged from assault in the third degree to falsely reporting an incident in the third degree, according to the Times Union.
Even though the video goes counter to the initial details of the case, the lack of audio and the lack of details prior to the altercation still leaves doubt.
A conference date is set for March 29.