The assault of a black Oregon college student by three white students is being investigated by a police hate crime unit and comes days after Portland police received reports of racist threats on social media, authorities said on Monday.
The 26-year-old black man was assaulted on Friday night by three white men near the campus pool at Lewis & Clark College in Portland, police said.
“The victim told police that the suspect used racial epithets before assaulting him,” Portland Police Department spokesman Pete Simpson said in a statement. “The victim fought back and was able to get away and go to his residence on campus.”
The attack came just days after Portland police received reports of racist remarks and threats over the social media app Yik Yak directed at students and staff at Lewis & Clark, a small, private liberal arts school.
Simpson said detectives who investigate bias crimes have opened a probe into both incidents and it was not yet known whether they are related.
The assault also comes about one week after a male student was charged with making threats through Yik Yak against black students at Michigan Technological University. Similar online threats have also targeted students in Missouri and in Washington, D.C.
The incidents have raised tensions on U.S. university campuses and led students to protest what they see as school officials’ lenient approach to racial abuse.
The victim and assailants in Portland have not been named by police or the school, but the Oregonian newspaper named the victim as Tanguy Muvuna of Rwanda.
The newspaper cited Muvuna as saying that the trio slapped, punched and pushed him, told him he was going to die, and forced him to drink an unknown liquid.
“I’m not angry. I’m not upset,” the Oregonian quoted Muvuna as saying. “I love everyone here. I love the white people. I love the black people here… Many white people here, they are not racists… I’m safe. I’m safe here.'”
He was treated on scene and declined to be taken to the hospital, police said.
In a statement, Lewis & Clark College President Barry Glassner said the school’s priority is “to find the people posting hate speech and the assailants quickly” and that it has brought in additional security for its campus.
(Reporting by Shelby Sebens in Portland, Oregon; Editing by Cynthia Osterman)
Watch a report on the attack, as aired on KOIN-TV, below.