08 20 2014
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Panoramic view of San Jose State University

SAN JOSE, Calif. (AP) -- Civil rights activists are calling on prosecutors to file felony hate-crime charges against four white students accused of harassing a black student at San Jose State University.

NAACP leaders are urging Santa Clara County District Attorney Jeff Rosen to bring felony charges against the white students, who currently face misdemeanor hate-crime and battery charges.

“This is not simple hazing or bullying. This is obviously racially based terrorism targeted at their African American roommate,” Reverend Jethroe Moore II, president of the San Jose/Silicon Valley NAACP said in a statement Saturday. “The community will not stand idly by and allow for any student of color to be terrorized simply due to the color of his skin.”

San Jose resident Ashlei McPherson has started a petition on Change.org seeking more accountability from the university and students

According to a police report, the white students taunted their freshman dorm-mate with racial slurs, outfitted their dormitory suite with a Confederate flag, barricaded the victim in his room and placed a U-shaped bicycle lock around his neck.

In a statement Saturday, Rosen says he believes his office has filed the “appropriate charges in this case, based upon the evidence,” according to the San Jose Mercury News.

“We have deep respect for the NAACP,” Rosen added. “We share its abhorrence for hate crimes and share its desire for justice.”

University officials have suspended the four white students, condemned their actions and promised a full investigation of the case, which prompted a campus protest last week.

The students charged are Logan Beaschler and Collin Warren, both 18; Joseph Bomgardner, 19; and an unidentified juvenile.

Since the accusations emerged Wednesday, efforts by the Mercury News and Associated Press to contact the students have been unsuccessful, and it's unclear if they have lawyers. They haven't released any public statements. The Santa Clara County district attorney's office and county jail administration office were closed Sunday.

Assembly Speaker John Perez, D-Los Angeles, said in a statement that he and California State University Chancellor Timothy White will closely monitor the situation “so that every student knows that these unconscionable acts will not be tolerated anywhere, anytime.”

NAACP officials are planning a campus news conference Monday to condemn the racially charged actions and call on the university to conduct a thorough investigation into how the university housing department handled the situation.

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