One of the students charged in the Charter Oak Apartments racial incident will seek to have his charges erased, while the other student had his court date continued to next month, according to WFSB and My Record Journal.
Both students were charged under Connecticut General Statute 53-37, which is ridicule on the account of creed, religion, color, denomination, nationality or race after they repeatedly yelled the N-word while walking through the parking lot of Charter Oak Apartments on Oct. 11, according to university spokeswoman Stephanie Reitz.
Jarred Karal, 21, of Plainville, applied for accelerated rehabilitation in Rockville Superior Court on Nov. 13, which would allow his charges to be erased from his record after a probation period and completion of the program. A hearing on his application is set for Jan. 8 of next year.
Ryan Mucaj, 21, of Granby, did not appear in Rockville Superior Court for his scheduled date of Oct. 30 and instead had his case continued to Dec. 16.
Both students are still enrolled at the school while a university investigation is underway, but no other information can be released due to federal privacy law, according to NBC Connecticut.
Several free speech advocates, including First Amendment Lawyers Association member and attorney Adam Steinbaugh, have come forward to denounce the decision to charge the two individuals, citing constitutional protections and the vagueness of the law under which the men were charged.
“The Connecticut statute is a rarely-enforced relic dating to 1917 and intended to address advertisements for businesses, not every use of derogatory language,” Steinbaugh wrote in an article for The Fire. “There are scattered references to charges under the statute in news reports and legal databases, but no substantive analysis of the statute’s constitutional viability has been undertaken by any court, much less any appellate court.”
Last month, the Connecticut chapter of the American Civil Liberties Union called on the University of Connecticut police to drop the charges against the individuals and instead allow the university to enact structural changes that would lead to the betterment of the minority community, according to chapter director David McGuire.
“Under existing free speech case law the students who were arrested will almost certainly not be convicted, making it imperative for the university to immediately address racism on campus, including but not limited to these recent incidents,” McGuire said. “Until its internal disciplinary process is complete, it remains to be seen whether the school will take adequate action to hold the two arrested students accountable.”
Taylor Harton is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.