Authorities in Albany, New York have filed charges against three black students related to their claims that they were attacked by a racist mob of white people on a bus ride.
University of Albany students Ariel Agudio, Alexis Briggs, and Asha Burwell were charged on Thursday with assaulting a white female passenger on the bus and two of them, Agudio and Burwell, were charged with falsely reporting an incident.
Agudio, Briggs and Burwell had claimed that they were “harassed and assaulted” by about a dozen white men and women on a city bus on January 30.
As Breitbart News reported, the claims of the three black women that they were the victims of a white racial assault quickly became a cause célèbre for the Black Lives Matter movement, including high profile BLM activist DeRay McKesson. At the time, celebrities including rapper Wacka Flocka took to Twitter to cry out for justice for the students.
Now police say that after a thorough investigation, the claims by Audio, Briggs and Burwell “that they were victimized, were false.” Authorities interviewed 35 passengers on the bus as well as looking at security camera and mobile phone video footage.
Burrell told police dispatchers later the morning of the incident, “Me and my friends were jumped on a bus because we’re black.”
Agudio also called the police, saying, “I just got jumped on a bus and no one did anything. Me and my three friends…it was a racial crime and if someone doesn’t come and take this down or something, I’m going to call the news.”
Agudio’s attorney, Mark Mishler, released a statement to WNYT News late Thursday afternoon. It says in part, “We believe these charges are unwarranted. It is also unfortunate that some in the media and public appear to have reached a conclusion as to what occurred in this incident without actually having the information needed in order to reach such a conclusion.”
However, video released by UAlbany and then posted by WNYT “appears to show one of the young black women lunge out of her seat toward the other side of the bus. Police say she throws the first punch.”
The initial accusations by the three students had consequences. After accuser Asha Burrell’s brother NFL player Tyreek Burwell threatened a white student he claimed was involved in the alleged incident on Twitter that student reportedly quit school.
The apparently false accusations that grabbed national attention have caused some anger in the Albany from local resident. As one woman wrote in am open letter to Asha Burwell published in the the Albany Times Union:
Did it occur to you that you weren’t a woman of one (or three, since Ariel Agudio and Alexis Briggs are part of this, too) crying wolf, but rather your actions, your decisions, your choices will make people — the public, and otherwise — think many who come after you with their own legitimate, fair, honest claims of assault are also lying?
Do you feel any remorse over the fact you are an embarrassment to yourself, your school, your family, your community, your peers?
Lies are not without motivation, Ms. Burwell. What was yours?
Hoax claims like Burwell’s serve two purposes. First, they provide validation for the Black Lives Matter movement’s claims of America’s racism. Second, they provide a sort of instant celebrity for the accuser, as their claims are broadcast on social media and then by newspapers, television and websites.
In the initial reporting on the incident, Breitbart News pointed out that Burwell’s timeline was full of references to Black Lives Matter.
Burwell has indicated she’s planning to become an attorney.