Student Charged With Hate Crime After Beating Up 10-Year-Old Black Girl

An 11-year-old white girl was charged with a hate crime after she allegedly verbally and physically assaulted a 10-year-old African American girl, authorities said. The little Black girl was reportedly subjected to “racially motivated language” on a school bus in Gouverneur, New York.

The victim’s parents reported the assault in a complaint on September 10, according to WWNY. The girl’s mother said her 10-year-old daughter was on the school bus when two white girls beat her up and subjected her to racially motivated language. Officials did not reveal what racially motivated language was used.

The girl suffered a black eye, lost her hair when it was pulled, and bruised her knee after falling into the school bus seat, according to Gouverneur police.

The two Gouverneur Middle School students, ages 10 and 11, were arrested on September 23 and charged with second-degree harassment. The 11-year-old received an additional charge of third-degree assault as a hate crime, WWNY reported.

According to the FBI, a hate crime is a “criminal offense against a person or property motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender, or gender identity.”

Gouverneur Police Sgt. Darren Fairbanks told CNN that the hate crime charge is a felony.

“It’s not very often that we charge a hate crime in the village of Gouverneur,” Fairbanks said.

Police said that the girls’ parents were referred to St. Lawrence County Probation for further action, according to CNN. Their cases will be handled in juvenile court.

A bus monitor, identified as 28-year-old Tiffany Spicer, was charged with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child.

Authorities said that Spicer, who is white, witnessed the assault on the young girl, but “did not make an effort to stop and/or prevent said behavior.” According to WWNY, Spicer was ticketed and ordered to appear in Gouverneur Town Court at a later date.

Lauren French, the Superintendent of the Gouverneur Central School District, told WWNY that the hate crime assault is devastating.

“It is probably the most professionally devastating event since I started working at Gouverneur in 1984,” French said.

“How do we become better out of this? How do we treat everyone better?”

French added that the district has “reached out to various resources we have access to, to provide additional training to our staff and additional training, support, recognition, conversation to our student body.”

First Student, the company which provides bus service to the Gouverneur district, employed the bus monitor. French said First Student was asked to provide additional training to bus aides and monitors.

“I firmly believe we are better than this, and we have to take a stand,” the superintendent said.

The village of Gouverneaur has a population of about 7,000, according to US Census Bureau data NNY 360 cited. The Census Bureau estimated that in 2018, 89.2 percent of residents were white, 6.7 percent of residents were Black or African American, and 5 percent of residents were Hispanic or Latinx.

Last year, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) said that hate crime reports had risen for the third consecutive year. There was a 17 percent increase in hate crime reports from 2016 to 2017. The annual report found that of the more than 7,100 hate crimes reported in 2017, approximately three out of five were motivated by race and ethnicity.

The number of hate crimes, however, is believed to be much higher due to underreporting. According to The New York Times, data shows that victims of hate crimes typically do not trust that reporting the crimes will help them.

The FBI said that it would train law enforcement officers to improve the way they identify and report bias-motivated incidents.

“This report is a call to action—and we will heed that call,” former acting attorney general Matthew Whitaker said in a statement at the time. “The Department of Justice’s top priority is to reduce violent crime in America, and hate crimes are violent crimes. They are also despicable violations of our core values as Americans.”

The DOJ has since launched a website on hate crimes, which offers tips on prevention, case examples, and resources.

About the Author

Nicole Rojas is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has published in various publications, including Newsweek, GlobalPost, IHS Jane’s Defence Weekly, and the Long Island Post. Nicole graduated from Boston University in 2012 with a degree in print journalism. She is an avid world traveler who recently explored Asia and Australia.