Indiana University condemned Monday an attack on a Muslim woman by a suspect who witnesses say was motivated by racial hatred. University officials confirmed the man accused of attacking the woman, 19-year-old Triceten Bickford, is currently enrolled as an undergraduate student, and said they were monitoring a police investigation into the incident.
Bickford was arrested over the weekend on several charges after he allegedly grabbed the woman by her neck and slammed her head into a table at a cafe near campus in Bloomington, Indiana. He also allegedly tried to remove the woman's religious headscarf, known as a hijab. Bickford had to be restrained by the woman’s husband and another man before police arrived to take him into custody, according to local Fox affiliate WXIN-TV.
“This type of abhorrent behavior is not representative of our students, nor of the culture of inclusion and tolerance so many people at the university and in the Bloomington community have worked so hard to foster,” the university said in statement released on its Facebook page. Lauren Robel, the Bloomington campus provost, instructed the office of the dean of students to conduct its own investigation into the incident, according to the statement.
The alleged assault took place Saturday at the Sofra Cafe, less than a mile from the main campus. The Muslim woman was there with her 9-year-old daughter and her husband when Brickford began shouting ethnic slurs at the woman, police said. The assailant shouted “white power” and “kill them all” before committing the assault, according to witnesses.
Police booked Bickford in the Monroe County Jail on preliminary charges that included intimidation, misdemeanor- and felony-level battery, and strangulation, among other charges, according to WXIN-TV. The student’s bond was set at $2,000.
The Council on American-Islamic Relations, the country's largest Muslim civil rights organization, called Monday for a bias crime charge to be brought against Bickford. "We are concerned that the low bail in this case is an indication that it is not being taken as seriously as it should, given the allegations of violence and the alleged bias motive," Ibrahim Hooper, the national spokesman for CAIR, said in a statement.