Monday, May 20, 2024

Victims of hate crime want more security at MSU Library after injuries from attack

April 17, 2024
<p>Outside the MSU Main Library on Aug. 26, 2021.</p>

Outside the MSU Main Library on Aug. 26, 2021.

Bradley Cooper went to study with his boyfriend, Ryon Baldwin-Williams, at the main library of MSU's campus on April 15. Neither of them could have anticipated that both of them would end up injured and spend nine hours in the emergency room the same night. 

Cooper and Baldwin-Williams were victims of an aggravated assault and hate crime based on sexual orientation bias. MSU Police and Public Safety stated on April 16 that a total of seven suspects were identified and none were affiliated with MSU.

Cooper, an apparel and textile design junior, said after getting food and returning to the library, the couple encountered a group who began a verbal altercation with them. 

"They’re walking towards us and they looked at me and made eye contact," Cooper said. "They commented on my shirt and they said something like, 'why are you wearing that tight-ass shirt.'" 

Cooper said that following the altercation, they went back to the study room they were in and saw one of the seven suspects looking for him and his boyfriend, making eye contact with him through the window.

After identifying them, Cooper said that the suspect returned with the rest of the group and they began banging on the door.

Baldwin-Williams, a computer science junior, said that it was at this time that he went into a "protective state," and said that the group was looking for Cooper.

Cooper said that he and Baldwin-Williams were attempting to hold the door closed to prevent them from entry when one of the suspects assaulted him. 

"We didn't want anything to happen, but they pushed the door open and then one of them put his arm in and hit me in the face," Cooper said. "And then another hit me. We went out there and that’s when the fight started happening."

Baldwin-Williams said he was screaming "help me, don't let them get away" at the end of the altercation.

Police and EMTs came to the library soon following the incident.

Baldwin-Williams said he then noticed there was a slit above above his eye and that he was bleeding everywhere.

He said he also had to get a splint on his finger because he fractured a bone and that the suspects shoved his earring into his ear, which he said is still causing him pain. 

Cooper said both of their shoulders and neck are sore and bruised, and that they have bruising around their eyes. They both spent nine hours at the emergency room.

MSU has not reached out to pay for either of the victims' medical bills, he said. 

"It’s upsetting," Cooper said. "I felt like they didn't really care too much. Although they've sent a bunch of emails, the emails were just general emails to me ... we only received one or two emails and regards to how we are and our personal situation, but nothing really impactful."

For Baldwin-Williams, he said they didn’t want to take the hospital ride with EMTs because he felt less secure due to the expenses. He said Cooper’s family from Ann Arbor came and took them the hospital, and he felt more secure being with family and friends.

He said he felt like "nothing was moving in those nine hours."

Later that night, MSU Department of Police and Public Safety released a timely warning alerting the MSU community that a hate crime and aggravated assault was reported at the library on campus. On April 16, MSU DPPS released a statement stating that the seven suspects were identified and were not affiliated with MSU. 

Baldwin-Williams said that he wishes that the MSU Library implemented locks on the door of the study room and that "it's frustrating not having any sort of level of security." 

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"When they kind of came in, they were staring at him, (and) my only thought was, 'I need to protect him right now, I'm just worried about what they're trying to do to him,'" Baldwin-Williams said. "I just wish we could have had locks in the door. It’s not that hard to implement a simple lock."

He said that the study rooms on the second floor of the main library had locks but the room on the third floor did not, which made it easier for the suspects to gain entry into the room. 

Baldwin-Williams said that the suspects being "random people on campus" made everything worse. 

Cooper said that it is "very upsetting" that the suspects "weren't even MSU students."

"It is a public building I suppose, but it's kind of annoying that students can’t feel safe in a library, which should be one of the safe places on campus," Cooper said. 

"Hearing that people were able to hear me up there yelling and they still were able to get away ... it's just frustrating," he said. 

Kinesiology freshman Ellery Brown said she was studying for her exam when she saw there was a "commotion," and a "big fight" of a group attacking a person. She said that the students on the third floor weren't sure what was happening and some were packing up their things to leave the library.

"I was pretty scared because I didn't know the context of it and I just thought it was guys getting in a fight," Brown said. "I didn't really know why or what was happening. And I (was) just kind of looking around trying to see what everyone else is doing. And they were all trying to get out, so I was just trying to (as well), because I was a little worried about safety."

Brown, who now knows the context, said what happened was "disgusting and shocking."

"I just can't believe things like this will happen," Brown said. "I feel terrible for the victims."

While Baldwin-Williams said some MSU members reached out to him and Cooper, sending a series of emails, they didn’t provide a list of "here’s what you should do right now." He said the MSU police were very helpful in that regard.

"I'm just hopeful that something good comes of this," Baldwin-Williams said. "I feel that every year since we've been here, it's always something. And I just really hope that this is a wake-up call or something to kind of get more support on campus, because I still don’t even know what the process is right now, what I’m supposed to be doing."

Aside from the physical pain, Cooper said he is experiencing mental effects. They said they wish there was more they could have done, but also wishes MSU could have done more in providing security in the library. 

"Everyone around us were just watching," Cooper said. "No one tried to break us up or try to interfere at all. It was just me and (my partner) and the guys left when they chose to leave."

He said it’s sad people in the LGBTQIA+ community are being discriminated against. 

"It’s 2024," Cooper said. "It doesn't make sense why people like us, LGBTQ people or minorities in general, should just not feel safe anywhere they go, especially on a college campus. Everyone should feel safe on a college campus."


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