Albany Students Who Fabricated Hate Crime Avoid Prison

Asha Burwell leaves the front of the judge's bench at Albany City Criminal Court on Monday, Feb. 29, 2016, following her arraignment in Albany, N.Y. Burwell claimed a group of white men and women harassed her and others with racial slurs aboard a city bus and is being charged with assault. (Paul Buckowski/The Albany Times Union via AP, Pool) MANDATORY CREDIT

Two of the three SUNY Albany female students who fabricated a racial hate crime in Albany, NY, early last year have been sentenced for falsely reporting the incident. The third woman accepted a plea deal.


Ariel Agudio and Asha Burwell were sentenced Friday to serve “three years of probation, pay a $1,000 fine, and perform 200 hours of community service.” The two women had been facing up to two years in prison, but neither will have to spend a moment in jail. Alexis Briggs, the third woman, agreed to apologize and was sentenced to perform community service as part of her plea deal with the district attorney.

The three African American students had claimed that they were victims of a racially motivated attack while riding a CDTA/UAlbany bus back to campus from the bars in Albany on January 30 of last year.

Early that Saturday morning, Agudio, Briggs, and Burwell reported to the police that a mob of 10-20 white people punched and kicked them while yelling racial epithets:

After the alleged assault, at least two of the women took to Twitter and Instagram with their claims.

“I just got jumped on a bus while people hit us and called us the ‘n’ word and nobody helped us,” wrote one of the students.

“I got beat up by 20 people screaming racial slurs,” wrote another, later adding that “a whole bunch of guys started hitting me and my two friends.”

One of them also wrote on Twitter: “I begged people to help us and instead of help they told us to shut the (bleep) up and continuously hit us in the head.”


Cell phone video and bus surveillance cameras would later tell a different story. The women themselves had perpetuated the racial hatred and violence.

In the face of protests and a fake news media circus, New York-based blogger Rusty Weiss of the Mental Recession was one of the first to report that the incident was likely a hoax:

The incident sparked protests at the school.

Protesters, including members of the National Congress of Black Women and the Albany chapter of Black Lives Matter, showed signs of support for the women, demanding change in the form of hiring minority faculty and providing sensitivity training for University police.

Burwell and her fellow alleged ‘victims’ gave tearful speeches on campus.

SUNY Albany president Robert Jones, before having any of the facts straight and going solely on what he heard from Burwell and her companions, issued a statement saying he is “deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident.”

People showed support for the trio on Twitter using the hashtag #DefendBlackGirlsUAlbany. Meanwhile, the students who were falsely accused of a racist attack were ostracized and threatened. San Diego Chargers lineman Tyreek Burwell — Asha Burwell’s brother — tweeted a threatening message to a student whom she had named as one of the attackers. That individual reportedly left campus — at least temporarily — out of concern for his safety.


Public figures, including then-candidate Hillary Clinton, used the highly questionable incident for racial pandering:

All of the people who jumped on the Albany hoax bandwagon should be ashamed of themselves.

The allegations never passed the smell test to begin with, and began to unravel almost immediately. It is only one of hundreds of fake hate crimes that have have been documented in recent years. What makes the Albany bus hoax so egregious is the fact that the accusers were actually guilty of the crime they were projecting onto others — and those innocent lives were adversely affected.

The disgraceful episode should be kept in mind the next time an unsubstantiated report of a hate crime hits the news — especially if it occurs anywhere near a college campus — because the fake hate crime epidemic shows no signs of stopping anytime soon.



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