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Crime & Courts

Police: Harassment reported near NIU a hate crime

DeKALB – Police say a racial harassment incident first reported by a student on social media this week is being investigated as a hate crime.

According to a safety bulletin from Northern Illinois University police, the incident occurred between noon and 1 p.m. Thursday in the 100 block of North Annie Glidden Road.

"Four individuals in a silver pickup truck made racially-charged comments to an individual walking near the 100 block of North Annie Glidden Road," the bulletin says. "During the encounter, the victim observed a firearm in the vehicle, but the firearm was never pointed at the victim."

The incident was described on Facebook by a man identified as an NIU student. In a post on Facebook on Thursday at 2:27 p.m., he wrote, "Today I'm just randomly walking and a truck drove by with a confederate flag and Nazi flag. I shook my head, so to the right of me was a parking lot and that truck turned around and pulled up by me with one guy holding a shotgun, they specifically (4 guys) said "you don't belong in our town ...".

The post went on to describe the men using a racial slur.

"So I couldn't hold my peace anymore and I told them all specifically 'look I have no problems with you all, can I at least shake your hand?'," the posting reads. "The driver asked why and I said 'people like you are the ones who drives me to make sure I succeed in life. I appreciate you and your friends!' "

The post said another person in the group kept shouting a racial slur.

The episode was not reported to police on Thursday. However, New York Daily News reporter Shaun King, who has been sending out various accounts of people suffering racial and religious harassment after Donald Trump's election as president, tweeted it out to his followers on Saturday.

Lisa Miner, an NIU spokeswoman, said the incident occurred off campus and that police had learned about it through social media on Friday and reached out to the student.

DeKalb Police Chief Eugene Lowery said police were investigating.

"The DeKalb police are taking this incident and all like it with great concern," Lowery said in an email. "There is no place in our community for racially motivated criminal acts or harassment of any kind."

Lowery asked anyone with information about the incident to contact police. DeKalb Police can be reached at (815) 748-8400, NIU Police and Public Safety can be reached at 815-753-1212. Witnesses may remain anonymous by calling (815) 753-TIPS (8477).

"It is also important for our community to stand together to address behavior of this nature in a positive and constructive manner," Lowery wrote.

Attempts to contact the victim through Facebook and email were not successful.

Here is a link to the posting through Twitter. Please note that it contains graphic language and racial slurs.

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