AMHERST, Mass. (WWLP) – A University of Massachusetts student was arraigned Monday for after allegedly assaulting another student at a rally to show solidarity with Israeli hostages being held by Hamas.
According to a statement sent to UMass students by Interim Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life Shelley Perdomo-Ahmed and Assistant Vice Chancellor and Chief of Police Tyrone Parham, the incident happened Friday at the “Bring Them Home: Solidarity Walk and Installation,” which was organized by the Jewish student group Hillel.
Police reports allege an angry, slur and stereo-type assault following the event on the campus of UMass Amherst. Efe Ercelik of Amherst was arraigned on seven charges at Eastern Hampshire District Court on Monday morning:
- Assault and Battery with a dangerous weapon (2 Counts)
- Larceny from Person
- Vandalize Property
- Assault and Battery
- Assault and Battery to intimidate
- Disorderly Conduct
According to the UMass Amherst Police Department report, just before 4:00 p.m. on Friday Ercelik aggressively approached two students who attended the solidarity event, using expletives and derogatory stereotypes and slurs toward Jewish People. He then allegedly punched and kicked a victim before taking a small Israeli flag out of their hands and destroying it.
A second victim attempted to intervene and was allegedly kicked and pushed. Neither had visible marks at the time of the police report. A witness reported Ercelik had been hanging around the hours-long event prior to the incident, making rude hand gestures before speaking with an officer and leaving the area.
Ercelik was released on $250 bail and must stay away from the two named victims in the report and off of UMass Amherst’s campus entirely. He is due back in court on January 16 for a pre-trial hearing and to review a motion to waive the charge of assault and battery to intimidate.
Ercelik’s defense attorney argued that they be given an exception to the campus ban at the discretion of the university after a two-day written request to the school for things like in-person exams. The judge denied the request.
“What this student is accused of is reprehensible, illegal, and unacceptable,” the statement from Perdomo-Ahmed and Parham reads, “Let us be clear, these were the actions of an individual who did not speak for nor act on behalf of a group or anyone other than themselves. Peaceful advocacy and protest must and will be protected on our campus.”
“Antisemitism, Islamophobia, or any form of bigotry have no place in our community, and we are committed to ensuring our community’s engagement with opposing viewpoints is maintained in a respectful manner.”
Perdomo-Ahmed and Parham say there are no credible threats to the UMass community, but campus police remain vigilant.
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