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Black Cornell Students Taunted by Sigma Pi Fraternity

Cornell University

When Cornell University student Beverly Fonkwo was walking the yard with a friend, she never expected to be the object of someone's hate. Allegedly, a group of people on the roof of the Sigma Pi fraternity house taunted Fonkwo and her friend with references to Trayvon Martin, and threw bottles and other objects at Black students who were walking by the house early Sunday morning. Cornell Chief of Police Kathy Zoner confirmed that people were "reportedly making racial references," but quickly added that she could not disclose more information because the investigation is being led by Ithaca police.

Sigma Pi President Zach Smith said in an email Sunday afternoon that the fraternity has "figured out who the perpetrator was, and will turn his name over to police." The individual identified was not a brother of the fraternity, he said. With the assailants "just laughing at the whole situation," Fonkwo, a Black teenager from Florida, had a Jack Daniels bottle and an unopened beer can thrown at her while being verbally assaulted. "I feel like it was targeted and racially motivated," Fonkwo said of the incident Sunday. "We felt very threatened." Sade Samakinwa, who saw her friends "pretty shook up" after the incident, summed up the situation saying, "I think the most shocking thing was not that bottles were being thrown but that they were shouting Trayvon. To use that boy's name so disrespectfully while disrespecting someone is absolutely insane."

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