This is breaking news - I just heard about it from the CM-Life.
Isabella County Prosecutor Larry Burdick has said that he will not be pressing charges against the 28-year-old male engineering student who hung a noose in the Industrial Educational Technology Building back in November. (My previous posts on this subject can be found here, here, here, here, and here).
Burdick released a press release, saying, “I am confident of the work performed by the CMU police, in conjunction with the FBI. The facts determined due to the joint investigation does not support a charge of ethnic intimidation, and the intent needed for that crime cannot be proven.” And that’s basically what I said in my retraction to my original statementssaying that he should be charged. The fact is, even IF he did it in an intimidating way, without a verification for that, Burdick can’t win the case, and if he tried, he’d be a bad prosecutor, in my opinion.
Burdick goes on to say, “The student’s e-mail to the campus newspaper was, in my opinion, both insensitive and demonstrative of a complete lack of knowledge and understanding about the historical significance of the hanging of nooses. His explanation, however, as to the reason he constructed and hung four nooses last November was corroborated by two of his classmates, which I found to be very credible and forthright concerning the incident.”
Again – that shows that although the student made a very poor/stupid decision, it wasn’t intended to be a threat of force (and even if the student is lying, 2 witnesses would be hard for Burdick to argue against).
Burdick continues, “Because intent lies at the heart of the charge that was under consideration, both we and the FBI felt it important to fully and carefully examine the individual’s personal computer to see if there was anything to suggest his actions were racially motivated. … What happened on campus should not just serve as a badly needed educational experience for one college student, but enlighten all of us as to the detrimental effect of this symbol.”
Again – this was a good call by Burdick.
But now that Burdick has said all of this, this means that CMU cannot release the student’s name (under FERPA, only a person who commits a violent or sexual crime can have his/her name released). As I said before, if Burdick doesn’t prosecute, as he now has decided not to, I’d wonder what rule CMU used to suspend the student. The fact that no crime was committed gives the student a possible case against the university to overturn his suspension. I really can’t give my opinion on this, since I don’t know what the university charged him with.
I would like to take this opportunity to invite the student to do an interview with me. I have a few questions, some about the incident, but mostly about the aftermath and what will happen here. So, to the student who hung the noose, if you’re out there reading this, and wouldn’t mind answering a few questions, e-mail me at firstname.lastname@example.org.
I’ll keep you all updated as this story keeps on developing.