Berkeley, CA - Two UC Berkeley students have been arrested for hate crimes in connection with vandalism which included 17 slashed tires, and graffiti which said "F--- White People" and "Kill Cops."
One of the students arrested, Ismael Chamu, had just recently released on a weapons charge, prompting Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin and 19 incoming student senators to describe his arrest as "racial profiling."
The incident started on June 26 at around 3 AM when police responded to a report of a burglary in progress. When officers arrived in the area, they located Ismael Chamu, who matched the description of the burglary suspect.
When spotted by officers, Chamu ducked behind a vehicle and appeared to be setting something down. The officers detained Chamu, and located an illegal spring-loaded knife at the location where he appeared to have set something down, according to Berkeleyside.
There was no connection discovered between Chamu and the burglary, but he was arrested and booked for possession of the illegal knife.
In that same area, in the same time frame, it was later discovered that tires had been slashed on at least 17 different vehicles and graffiti was sprayed around campus which said "Fuck White People" and "Kill Cops." In all, there were over 30 incidents of vandalism.
Ismael Chamu spent the night in jail. Once released, he took to Facebook to say that he was only arrested because of racial profiling.
“The Police racially profiled me for being Mexican. For looking like a ‘Burglar’ for appearing ‘Dangerous.’ I will never forget this,” he wrote. “I did no … wrong but exist in my Brown skin in a predominately upper White class neighborhood. I need justice and I will obtain it by any means needed."
He made no mention of his knife.
Nobody bothered to fact check the post before it went viral. There was an enormous angry response, with Berkeley Mayor Jesse Arreguin posting to Facebook that it was, "Unacceptable that this happened." The mayor contacted the Chief and demanded answers while the student senators signed their strongly-worded letter.
None of the people who rushed to this suspected criminal's defense stopped to consider that he may be victimizing the people in their community.
On Thursday night, officers moved in on Ismael Chamu's home with an arrest warrant and took him into custody for felony vandalism causing $400 or more in damage, the commission of a hate crime, hate crime enhancements and conspiracy, according to Berkeleyside.
21-year-old Peter Estrada was later arrested for the same charges.
Both men are students at UC Berkeley and are being held on $85,000 bail.