A 19-year-old student was arrested over the weekend after witnesses say he publicly attacked a Muslim woman and shouted racial slurs Saturday night at a cafe in Bloomington, Indiana.
According to witnesses, Triceten Bickford began shouting slurs at a 47-year-old woman and her 9-year-old daughter while they sat inside a cafe. Bickford reportedly screamed, "White power" and "kill them all," before assaulting her. Witnesses said the woman's husband was able to subdue Bickford until police arrived on the scene.
The police are not releasing the name of the victim, who told local NBC affiliate WTHR she had never experienced that level of discrimination or attack during her 18 years in the U.S.
Bickford told WTHR he was sorry, and said he had been drinking and taking anti-anxiety medicine. He was arrested Saturday and released on a $500 bond.
He now faces multiple charges, including felony charges, and is expected in court on Friday. Wendy Osborne, a spokeswoman for the FBI in Indianapolis, told the Associated Press that the agency is reviewing Saturday's incident and would open up a hate crimes investigation if it "determines that a federal law has been violated."
The Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), the nation's largest Muslim advocacy group, urged Monroe County officials to bring bias charges against Bickford. “We urge prosecutors to bring a ‘bias crime’ charge in this case as outlined under Indiana’s Criminal Code,” Ibrahim Hooper, CAIR communications director said in a statement Tuesday.
He added, "[Bickford] is free on $500 cash bail. This just seems very low bail for the severity of the allegation. It’s some indication that they’re not taking this seriously. Indiana is one of the few states that doesn’t have hate crime legislations. In lieu of that, we would hope that the prosecutors would apply the full weight of the law and not just treat it as a minor situation. If a Muslim person was the alleged perpetrator, it would be a completely different situation."
On Tuesday, Indiana University spokesman Mark Land told the Associated Press that the university has dismissed Bickford from school as a “direct result of what happened over the weekend.”