Two students report attack by alleged Trump supporter

Andrew Linnabary

Two Wichita State students say they were physically attacked by a man shouting racial insults Saturday morning.

“It was a gut-wrenching scene that I will never forget. I’ve never felt that helpless or faced that kind of humiliation,” Khondoker Usama said Monday.

Usama — student body vice president, who is Muslim — said he and his Hispanic friend, who would like to remain anonymous, stopped at the Kwik Shop at 21st and Oliver for gas and snacks. Usama led a news conference with media Monday at the Kwik Shop.

As they were coming back to their car, they saw a white man on a motorcycle shouting at an African American man who had asked for gas money, Usama said.

The man then started using other racial slurs, Usama said, and then turned his attention to Usama and his friend. Usama said the man drove over and stopped right in front of them.

“He pushed my friend and yelled at him, calling him brown trash and telling him you have to leave this country,” Usama said.

Usama said his friend then told the man, “This is my country; who are you to tell me that?”

Things escalated quickly, Usama said.

“I was just watching. I tried to defuse the situation, but in vain. The attacker started punching my friend’s face. My friend dodged a few punches but one connected and he took my friend to the ground,” Usama said.

Usama said he then tried to restrain the man but couldn’t. Usama said he saw the man reach in his pocket, so Usama took out his phone and called 911.

“While I was waiting for dispatch the person kept kicking my friend,” Usama said.

Usama said the attacker shouted, “Trump, Trump, Trump,” and, “We’ll make America great again, we’ll throw you over the wall.”

Usama said the attacker then circled around him and his friend.

The attacker left as they waited for police to arrive, Usama said. Upon arrival, the police took reports from Usama and his friend.

WSU President John Bardo released a statement about the attack to students, faculty and staff Monday via email.

“Wichita State University stands with the majority of Kansans in condemning all acts of anger and violence motivated by racism and intolerance,” the statement read. “At WSU, we constantly strive to build an environment where a diversity of culture, thought, experience and opinion can coexist in harmony. This core value is vital to the success of the university and to the nation as a whole.

“We would ask that the community keep this in mind as debate and discussion continue during a heated presidential election season.”

In his statement, Bardo encouraged students, faculty and staff to make use of the Counseling and Testing Center —316-978-3440 — if they have experienced violence. He also welcomed ideas and comments about diversity on campus on the web page of the university’s newly formed Diversity Council.

Moussa Elbayoumy, Kansas chair of the Council of American-Islamic Relations, said this was clearly an unprovoked instance of hate. Elbayoumy said police are investigating the incident as a hate crime.

“We have seen people seeking office using this rhetoric of hate to get cheap votes. We are calling upon all politicians, in particular Trump, to deplore this and any similar instance,” Elbayoumy said.

Rabbi Michael Davis, a Global Faith in Action board member, said all words and actions have consequence.

“Racism, hatred and bigotry lead to lynching, the Holocaust, bombings, destruction and death,” Davis said.

Wichita Police Chief Gordon Ramsay said investigators have received surveillance footage of the incident from Saturday morning and will review it before deciding whether to release it to the public.

“In this great nation we talk about freedom of speech and religion, but if we allow this kind of hatred toward each other then we can’t make America great again,” Usama said. “America is great when our civil rights are protected, not when people are verbally or physically abused because they’re different.”