Owens speaks out on attack

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The Daily Iowan

Iowa freshman Marcus Owens speaks to The Daily Iowan reporters in Iowa City on Thursday. Owens is the victim of an alleged hate crime that occurred outside of Eden Lounge in downtown Iowa City. Local law enforcement is currently investigating the incident. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

“Don’t touch my brother” was the last thing Marcus Owens said he heard before he was punched in the eye, then the mouth, which brought him down to the ground. He was then kicked, punched, and beaten.

Owens, the victim of a reported hate crime, gave his account of his assault in an exclusive interview with The Daily Iowan. The Iowa City police are investigating the assault as a hate crime, but no suspects have yet been named.

Prior to his attack on April 30 between 10 and 11 p.m., Owens said he stepped out of Eden Lounge, 217 Iowa Ave., to make a phone call. Owens, a University of Iowa freshman, said he was wearing a suit and was just out for a night on the town.

RELATED: Attack highlights racial tensions

While making the phone call, he heard someone yell racial slurs. He said he looked around but did not see anyone. He then heard a racial slur a second time and then saw a “man aggressively approaching” him.

The man took a swing at Owens, which he dodged. Owens said he was defending himself when he heard a second person say “Don’t touch my brother” before being punched and brought down.

“And that’s when I was viciously beaten, and that’s when they really went ham on my body,” the 19-year-old said. “They started kicking me, they started punching me viciously, and thank god someone yelled ‘hey’ to stop the fight.”

Owens said he proceeded to go back to his dorm and clean the blood off himself. Then he went to the emergency room. Owens received 12 stitches on his lip and had two chipped front teeth.

Iowa freshman Marcus Owens sits in Hampton Inn in Iowa City on Thursday. Owens is the victim of an alleged hate crime that occurred outside of Eden Lounge in downtown Iowa City. Local law enforcement is currently investigating the incident. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)
Iowa freshman Marcus Owens sits in Hampton Inn in Iowa City on Thursday. Owens is the victim of an alleged hate crime that occurred outside of Eden Lounge in downtown Iowa City. Local law enforcement is currently investigating the incident. (The Daily Iowan/Joshua Housing)

 

Despite rumors, Owens said there was no fight prior to his attack and that he does not believe the attack was fraternity-related.

“Greek life had no part in this in my opinion,” he said. “I think it was just individuals making a bad decision.”

UI student Nate Robinson, a member of the Black Hawkeyes organization, said he heard rumors there was a frat brawl prior to the attack, but he believes the attack was part of a hate crime.

“If you call somebody the N-word and then proceed to beat him after you called him that more than once, then I view that as a hate crime,” Robinson said. “Regardless, it should not have happened, and it’s wrong.”

When asked if Owens knew what his attackers looked like and if there were any descriptions, he only said the police are conducting an investigation.

Following the news of his attack, students have pushed the university for answers, using #ExplainIowa on Twitter, which prompted a response from the UI at about 1 a.m. Wednesday. A Hawk Alert was not issued when the attack first occurred. A crime alert was issued Wednesday before noon after students expressed concerns.

Students, including the Black Hawkeyes, held a closed meeting Wednesday evening to discuss plans for their next step as a community.

RELATED: Locals blast UI on racism during strategic planning forum

Robinson, who attended the meetings, said some proposals from the meeting include introducing cultural-competency classes to students, apologies from both UI police and Iowa City police, and changing the Hawk-Alert system.

Owens said he appreciates the support he has received from fellow students, in addition to the help and care he has received from UI President Bruce Harreld and the university administration.

“I’m not really in this alone,” Owens said. “I have a good support group. I’ve had people who have reached out to me, and I can really talk to a lot of people about what’s going on.”

Despite the support Owens receives from the university now, officials previously released a statement on UI police directing Owens to Iowa City police because the attack occurred off campus, calling it a “failure in protocol.”

Robinson said he was disheartened by the event that occurred and was displeased with how the UI police and Iowa City police handled the assault.

“I just think about myself, and it could have been me,” Robinson said. “I was just disheartened by it, confused as to why this would happen, why is there so much hate in this world still just for some body’s skin color.”

The lingering question Owens has from his assault is: “Why did this happen to me?”

“It’s 2016; this should not be happening,” he said. “We are all made each equally and in different ways. We’re all unique in each and every way, so for something like this to happen is just not acceptable, and I hope these guys get brought to justice.”

 

Daily Iowan TV reporter Elona Neal contributed to this article.

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