suspect arrested in assault on asian student at cornell university

Last week at Cornell University, police arrested and charged 19-year-old Viktor Nikulin for the brutal beating of an Asian American student earlier this month. Authorities are still determining whether or not the assault was racially motivated: Police Arrest Teenager for Alleged West Campus Assault.
On June 5, three individuals in a vehicle yelled racial epithets at a student of Asian descent riding his bicycle on College Avenue near the intersection of Campus Road, police said. The vehicle followed the victim onto West Avenue where Nikulin allegedly exited the vehicle and assaulted him. The victim was treated for injuries at Cayuga Medical Center and released.

Nikulin, who is not a Cornell student, was arraigned Tuesday in the City of Ithaca Court and released on his own recognizance. Cornell Police have been in discussions with the Tompkins County District Attorney's office to determine whether the assault can be prosecuted as a hate crime.
I don't quite understand what other factors need to go into determining whether or not you call this a hate crime. The guys in the car -- including the guy who did the actual beating -- kicked things off by yelling racial epithets at the victim. I'd say it's pretty clear there was an element of racial bias to the attack. Or does a guy have to be literally screaming slurs as he's throwing the actual punches?

More here: Police arrest suspect in Cornell assault. And here's also a joint statement issued by several Asian American student groups at Cornell in response to the attack: Collaborative Statement in Regards to Recent Assault of Asian American Student.

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