Felony hate crimes charges have been filed against a University of Illinois-Urbana Champaign (UIUC) student who confessed to throwing a rock at Jewish students during an anti-Israel protest outside the campus’ Hillel center in April, according to a report from The News Gazette.
“The State Attorney’s filing sends a clear message that violence against Jews, or any other minority for that matter, is unacceptable and unwelcome in Champaign-Urbana,” Illini Hillel Executive Director Erez Cohen told The Algemeiner Thursday morning.
If convicted, the student faces a maximum sentence of up to five years in prison, The News-Gazette reported.
Members of the university’s Students for Justice in Palestine (SJP) chapter had stopped at the Illini Hillel Cohen Center during what the group advertised as an “emergency” protest through campus over clashes between Palestinian rioters and Israeli police at Jerusalem’s Al-Aqsa mosque.
One student told local CBS affiliate WCIA 3 that SJP UIUC chose the Jewish center because “they obviously have a very direct connection to Israel and that’s why we’re targeting that area in specific.”
Speaking to The Daily Illini, a campus newspaper, Cohen, the Hillel director, called the demonstration, which occurred during Passover, “unacceptable” and noted that one of the SJP protestors committed a “verbal attack” and another threw an object.
According to The News-Gazette, UI Police reviewed footage of the incident and identified a twenty three year old UIUC student as the person who hurled the object. During questioning, the student said he was angry about Jewish students’ counter-protesting SJP UIUC by meeting on the center’s patio to eat and play music and that the rock thrown was intentionally used as a weapon.
“We call upon the University of Illinois to condemn this act of violence against the Jewish community and to take steps to ensure and uphold the rights of all students to safely and freely celebrate their identities on campus,” Cohen, the Hillel director, added.
The University of Illinois did not respond to The Algemeiner’s request for comment in time for this publication.
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Author: Dion J. Pierre
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