Alleged Gouverneur hate crime caught on video, court papers show

Updated: Sep. 26, 2019 at 4:45 PM EDT
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GOUVERNEUR, N.Y. (WWNY) - The alleged racially-motivated beating of a Gouverneur Middle School 5th grader was caught on school bus surveillance video.

Court papers depict a scene in which the two attackers hurled racial epithets at the 10 year-old victim, including the N-word both before and during the attack.

It all happened on a bus ride from the middle school to the high school, where the victim and other students regularly catch a second bus home.

According to the documents, the two girl attackers, ages 10 and 11, made threats against the victim with one going over to her seat while the other pulled the victim’s hair from behind.

One of the attackers is caught on video saying: “N --- s always start it” and “I like my people, but I don’t like your people.”

One of the attackers then jumped over into the victim’s seat to pull her hair again. The victim’s face was smashed into a window.

Police had said the girl, who is African American, suffered a black eye from being punched, lost hair due to her hair being pulled, and sustained a bruise to her knee after falling backward into the school bus seat from her hair being pulled.

According to police, the two girls, who are white, were responsible for the assault.

Gouverneur village police charged two girls, ages 10 and 11, with second-degree harassment. The 11 year old was additionally charged with third-degree assault as a hate crime.

“The one engaged in assault third...what makes motivation is if it’s based on race or religion, or perception of race or religion. And there are some other factors for that. In this case, we’re talking about race,” said Laurina Greenhill, Gouverneur police chief.

Gouverneur Officer Darren Fairbanks depicted the attack in an affidavit he wrote after he viewed the surveillance video.

He stated that bus monitor Tiffany Spicer can be seen making her way to the back of the bus while insults are first being hurled at the victim. According to the affidavit, Spicer does not seek to intervene other than saying “You guys are worse than my kids.” She later says “Take a chill pill. I know how she ... is. She rode my bus last year.”

Police charged Spicer with three counts of endangering the welfare of a child. Police said Spicer is white.

As the victim got ready to exit the bus, a male student got out of his seat and stood in the aisle between the victim and her attackers to prevent further harm and so she could get off.

“The question now is - I truly know and understand I can’t undo it - so it’s how to take the event that happened and turn it into a learning opportunity so it never happens again," said Lauren French, Gouverneur Central School District superintendent.

French said she cannot reveal whether the alleged attackers are in or out of school. The school is planning to have sessions to educate students on bullying and race as well as separate ones for the community at large.

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