Assault Followed Statement Concerning Victim’s Race, Police Say

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Bethlehem Police announced Sunday that they are investigating an assault that happened on the South Side over the weekend as a case involving ethnic intimidation.Bethlehem Police

In a post on the department’s Facebook page, police said that around 3 a.m. Saturday, a 22-year-old man was walking in the area of S. New and Morton streets near Lehigh University “when an unidentified adult male called out to the victim using an offensive and malicious statement concerning the victim’s race.”

“The victim was confronted by this subject, as well as a second adult male,” the post said. “The victim was then struck in the face by one of the subjects, causing a laceration and swelling to his lip.”

“Following the assault, the victim went to a friend’s home nearby and called police,” police said, adding that the assault suspects “left the area prior to police arrival.”

The man who was assaulted is reportedly a Lehigh University student, and according to reporting by several local media outlets the school’s president emailed members of the Lehigh community regarding the assault and the police investigation. No statements about it had been posted on the school’s social media platforms as of Monday evening.

According to the Bethlehem Police Department, the suspect in the assault was described by the victim as a white man, approximately 20 to 25 years old, 5 foot 8 inches to 5 foot 10 inches in height, with dark-colored hair.

Police said their investigation into the case is continuing, and asked anyone who may have witnessed the attack or who has information related to it to contact the department at 610-865-7000 or bethlehempolice@bethlehem-pa.gov.

Late Monday afternoon, the Council on American-Islamic Relations Philadelphia released a statement in which it condemned what it characterized as an “alleged racist attack targeting a Black student at Lehigh University.”

“Incidents such as this one in which anti-black racism has allegedly shown its ugly face signal that our work to counter racism of all forms continues to be meaningful and much needed,” said CAIR Philadelphia civil rights attorney Timothy Welbeck. “We are glad the alleged victim is receiving the needed support from the Lehigh University community.”

The CAIR news release described it as “the nation’s largest Muslim civil rights and advocacy group” and its mission “to protect civil rights, enhance understanding of Islam, promote justice and empower American Muslims.”

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