On February 3, 2008 Jason Vassell was the victim of a racist hate crime. Since then he has been further victimized by a racist prosecution. We, a coalition of community organizations, students and faculty, seek solidarity in challenging this racist prosecution.
Early on the morning of February 3, 2008, Jason, an African American student at the University of Massachusetts Amherst, was in his dormitory. Two intoxicated white men, Jonathan Bowes and Jonathan Bosse, approached Jason’s dormitory window repeatedly referring to him as a “nigger” and breaking in the window. They then forced their way into the dormitory lobby where they assaulted Jason, breaking his nose and giving him a concussion.
Under this continuing assault Jason was forced to defend himself with a pocketknife, injuring his assailants. As a result of defending himself against this unprovoked assault Jason, the victim of the attack, was charged with two counts of aggravated assault with a dangerous weapon. These charges carry a possible thirty year prison sentence. One of the perpetrators, Jonathan Bowes, was charged only with misdemeanors carrying a maximum eighteen month sentence. The other, Jonathan Bosse, was not charged at all.
Remember, for every one of these cases we hear about, there are probably 10 to 100 more we don’t.