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Metro State University issues statement following racially motivated assault on campus

June 20, 2019 10:13 PM

A day after a racially motivated assault was reported to police at Metropolitan State University, the University issued a statement concerning campus and community safety.

According to police, a physical assault occurred around 2 p.m. Wednesday on the St. Paul campus outside of New Main on the exterior stairwell on the north 7th Street side of the building. The individual who was assaulted, identified as Shamimul Alam, is noted as an employee at the University and was physically harmed.

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He told KSTP Reporter Eric Chaloux he was outside talking on the phone when the suspect came up to him and asked what language he was speaking. He replied with, "Bengali," and he initially thought the suspect and him were going to engage in more conversation. But the suspect then reportedly began beating him up.

"It happened so suddenly," Alam said.

The release states the St. Paul Police Department was contacted and searched the area. Campus Safety Officers were notified after the event happened. At this time, the person of interest has not been located. 

Alam, originally from Bangladesh, is now resting at home after the attack. He says he has a broken eye socket, broken nasal socket, intense swelling in the face and all of it could equal up to several months for him to fully recover physically. He told KSTP he has lived in Minnesota for 25 years and worked at the University for about six years. 

"He looked at me, then I said how are you, then stopped, came forward and said which country are you from and I told him. And then he said why are you in my country, then he punched me," he said.

RELATED: Racially motivated assault at Metro State University, no arrests made

Alam said he followed him after the altercation.

"Because I wanted to catch the guy," he said. He added that the attack has left him upset but not broken.

"I did nothing wrong, I just asked him how are you," Alam said.

The University posted notices on red paper around campus to alert students of the attack.

“We feel very strongly about getting the message out to our campus community to make sure they understand and are extra vigilant,” said Tracy Hatch, the vice president of finance and operations. “We take it very seriously that we are really a place of safety an inclusion for all individuals.”

She told 5 EYEWITNESS NEWS that St. Paul Police are looking at security footage taken in the area as part of the investigation.

Police and campus security have stepped up patrols.

“It’s very upsetting,” said Hatch. “We take seriously any kind of threat, especially a racial threat, or a threat based on someone's ethnicity or religion.”

“We are very much a melting pot as a university and we really pride ourselves on that.”

The University on Thursday issued the following statement regarding the safety on campus:

"This violent act is frightening and violates all of our most important university principles of openness, welcome, inclusion and security. The safety of each and every member of our community is our top priority and we are doing all we can to assist the police in their investigation."

The statement also said, "Metropolitan State University serves a diverse population and is committed to anti-racism and a positive learning, working and living environment. Our role is to assist in the creation of an environment in which every member of the university community is valued and everyone has the opportunity to succeed."

"We live in volatile and contentious times. An attack on any member of our community is an attack on all of us and creates feelings of fear and insecurity.  We will continue to stand strong together and extend a supportive hand, especially to those who may be feeling most vulnerable."

The frustration is being felt by the students as well.

"In a place where it's usually accepting, that wouldn't be a thing that happens ... in broad daylight," student Jordan Indeher said. "It's kind of messed up and a terrible situation."

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Tommy Wiita

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