SAN JOSE (KCBS) — While civil rights groups are calling for four San Jose State University students to be charged with felonies over their alleged racial harassment and abuse of their dorm-mate, Santa Clara County prosecutors are standing by the misdemeanor charges filed.
Alice Huffman, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP, told students at rally on Monday that the misdemeanor charges filed last week by District Attorney Jeff Rosen did not match the crime suffered by the black student.
In response, District Attorney Jeff Rosen said in a statement on Monday afternoon that he was “shocked, outraged and saddened by the hateful and illegal conduct” by the students, but that his office would not increase the charges.
Rosen said the charges were a reflection of their criminal conduct and not the degree of their racism.
“The key for the DA was whether these young men are just immature and ignorant or whether they were truly motivated by racial hatred,” defense attorney and former county prosecutor Steven Clark told KCBS.
However, there is always the possibility that the charges could be upgraded.
“This investigation, in all likelihood, is not over. If they were to find additional information about these young men—that they were a member of a hate group, or that they had posted racial hatred information on the internet. That could elevate these crimes to felonies,” Clark said.
“I think what needs to be done here is these young men need to come out and apologize for their behavior, not only to the young man who they tormented, but to the NAACP.”
Prosecutors said that the students taunted the unidentified black student with the racial names “three-fifths” and “fraction,” hung up a Confederate flag and placed photos of Adolf Hitler and Nazi symbols inside the eight-person student housing suite they shared between August and mid-October.
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