IOWA CITY, Iowa (AP) — A black University of Iowa freshman told police that he was severely beaten by three white men who called him racial slurs, investigators said Wednesday.
The Iowa City Police Department said that it was investigating the assault of Marcus Owens as a hate crime. Owens, 19, walked in to the department Monday night to report the assault, which he said happened late Saturday in downtown Iowa City.
Owens told police that he was walking in an alley near several bars and restaurants when he was approached by a man and struck multiple times. Two others joined the attack, striking him several more times and calling him racial slurs, he told police. Owens described his assailants as three white men who were of average height and approximately 19 to 22 years old.
Owens, who is from Naperville, Illinois, was later treated for his injuries at the University of Iowa Hospitals and Clinics.
The attack was first reported Tuesday night by WLS-TV in Chicago, which said Owens suffered damage to his eye socket, had his front teeth knocked out and injuries to his lip that required stitches. The station said he was released from the hospital Monday evening.
Students immediately took to social media to express safety concerns and question why they learned about the alleged hate crime from the station, not the university. Using the #explainIowa hashtag on Twitter, they demanded more information about the incident and how it was handled.
The school said that it had also learned of the assault from the news media, saying it was “deeply disturbed” by the report and concerned for Owens. The campus police department issued a crime alert notifying students of the incident on Wednesday morning.
Owens’ mother, Rosalind, told The Associated Press that the family was meeting Wednesday with the university’s dean of students.
Iowa City Police spokesman Sgt. Scott Gaarde said investigators have gathered information on possible suspects and are pursuing leads. He declined to comment when asked when the department informed the university of the assault.
Three percent of the 32,000 students enrolled at Iowa were black as of last fall, university statistics show.
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