Two White University of Arizona Students Arrested After Attacking Black Classmate

Two students from the University of Arizona were arrested after assaulting a Black student on campus.

On September 13, Matthew Fraizer and Matthew Rawlings were arrested and charged with class 1 misdemeanor assault, University Police Chief Brian Seastone said in a statement. Seastone said the case will go to the Pima County Attorney’s Office for review.

“Today, @UofAZPolice arrested 2 students alleged to have assaulted an African American student Tuesday,” the university wrote on Twitter on September 13. “Both were charged [with] class 1 misdemeanor assault. We are committed to ensuring campus is a safe [and] inclusive environment for the entire community.”

A police report released by university police states that authorities arrived to the front of the Arbol de la Vida residence hall at about 11:20 p.m. on September 10 in response to a report that people were fighting. A Black student, who remains unidentified, told police that two white men called him the N-word and one of the men “ran up and ‘tackled’ him” and then punched him repeatedly in the head, according to the report.

The Black student also said that while he was down on the ground, the second student kicked him. The victim, who suffered minor injuries, “was very upset over the use of the ‘N-word’ during the altercation, however he was unsure if the assault was racially motivated,” the report stated.

After speaking with witnesses, the officers located Rawlings and Fraizer, who appeared intoxicated, according to the report. One of the men told the officers he tried to stop his friend from fighting the Black student but said they could not remember exactly what happened. The victim initially said he did not want to press charges, but when an officer followed up two days after the assault, the student said “the incident replays (in his head) every day, every second and it is frustrating,” according to the police report.

A few days before Rawlings and Fraizer were arrested, students at the university slammed university officials’ response to the assault. In a letter the University of Arizona’s Black Student Union (BSU) shared with The North Star, the BSU stated that the university remained silent and did not take any action to help the victim or other Black students on campus feel safe.

“Instead of necessarily apprehending the aggressors who initially ran away, they were referred to a social justice ‘diversion’ training program lead and facilitated by the [University of Arizona Police Department],” the letter read.

“The attack — deemed a ‘minor’ injury by the [University of Arizona Police Department] — minimizes the emotional impact caused, thereby disenfranchising the lives of the Black student body at our University.”

The BSU held a protest on September 13, calling out university police and demanding they be held accountable for the way the officers initially handled the situation, the university’s student newspaper, The Daily Wildcat, reported.

University of Arizona President Robert Robbins sent an email to the campus on September 12 saying that university police were investigating the matter, The Arizona Republic reported. Robbins also said the university’s dean of students contacted the victim and their family, noting that “racism, bias, and violence will not be tolerated on this campus.”

"Inclusion is one of our primary values, and this is one of those moments that defines us and our community at the University of Arizona," Robbins wrote in the email. "We need to come together and let people know, without qualification, that intolerance and discrimination have no home here. Unless we have a safe environment, free from violence, discrimination, and hate, students will not be free to learn and pursue their dreams."

A similar incident occurred earlier this month when a student from the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was charged with a hate crime for allegedly placing a noose in an elevator of a campus residence hall. On September 2, Andrew M. Smith, 19, was arrested after being questioned by police at his residence hall in Urbana, university police said in a previous statement. The noose was found by residence hall staff in Allen Hall on September 1.

“Our mission at the University Police Department is to maintain a safe and secure environment where our campus community members feel supported and successful,” said Executive Director of Public Safety and University Police Chief Craig Stone in a previous statement. “We do not tolerate incidents that are perceived by others to be a threat to their safety, and we will always respond quickly to identify offenders and hold them accountable for those actions.”

Smith was charged with committing a hate crime and a misdemeanor count of disorderly conduct. He pleaded not guilty and was released on a $5,000 bond by the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office, ABC News previously reported. He is scheduled to appear in court on October 22.

About the Author

Maria Perez is a breaking news writer for The North Star. She has an M.A. in Urban Reporting from the CUNY Graduate School of Journalism. She has been published in various venues, including Newsweek, Juvenile Justice Information Exchange, City Limits, and local newspapers like The Wave and The Home Reporter.