White Student Who Tried to Harm Black Roommate Faces Hate Crime Charge
Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe's University of Hartford roommate used her bodily fluids to contaminate her possessions.
The hashtag #JusticeForJazzy prompted national attention to the plight of Chennel "Jazzy" Rowe, 18, a Black University of Hartford student, whose white roommate rubbed used tampons on her backpack and poisoned her body lotion, among other hateful incidents.
Brianna Brochu, 18, was arrested by the West Hartford Police Department on Saturday and charged with second-degree breach of peace and third-degree criminal mischief, both misdemeanors. Rowe posted a Facebook Live video on Monday detailing her ordeal. She said that a neighbor, along with two campus resident assistants, told her about Brochu's disturbing Instagram posts.
The video went viral and snippets began circulating on social media using the hashtag:
— Blake ⛽️ (@hasaniblakejr) October 31, 2017
On Wednesday, police said Brochu would also be charged with intimidation based on bigotry or bias, which is considered a hate crime charge. The same day, the university announced that Brochu was expelled.
University president Gregory S. Woodward said in a statement Wednesday that University Public Safety was notified of Brochu's actions on Oct. 17, and the West Hartford police were called in. According to court documents obtained by Heavy, that was the day university authorities and Rowe were made aware of Brochu's Instagram posts.
Rowe said she felt ostracized by Brochu since the beginning of the school year and put in a room change request.
"On 10/17/17 she began moving her belongings out of the room she shared with Brochu and into her newly assigned room," according to the documents.
An Instagram post on Oct. 17 stated:
"Finally did it yo girl got rid of her roommate!! After 1 1/2 months of spitting in her coconut oil, putting moldy clam dip in her lotions, rubbing used tampons on her backpack, putting her toothbrush places where the sun doesn't shine, and so much more I can finally say goodbye Jamaican Barbie."
Three photos followed the caption: One of Rowe's purse "stained with a reddish brown substance."
"Brochu later told me that was 'period blood,'" the court document states. "The second picture was a plastic food container with a milky white substance."
The caption read: "Like this moldy clam dip and I've been mixing it with her face lotion."
The third picture "appeared to be some type of weave hair piece and had the caption of, 'This b**ch legit bought a box of f**king hair.'"
In the #JusticeforJazzy thread, a social media user pointed out the irony of Brochu mocking Rowe hairstyle choices:
— tsunami taj (@EverythingTaj) October 31, 2017
According to the Hartford Courant, Brochu told police she "began to lash out due to a 'hostile environment' caused by [the victim's] rude behavior, not compromising, and posting Snapchat videos of me sleeping and making fun of me snoring." She also said that on Oct. 11 she had requested a room change, but was unsuccessful.
The University of Hartford is a four-year private institution located in West Hartford, Conn. It has just over 5,000 undergraduate students, of which 56 percent are white, 16 percent are Black, 12 percent are Latino, 3 percent are Asian and less than one percent are Native American, according to College Scorecard.
Woodward said in a statement on Tuesday that "acts of racism, bias, bullying, or other abusive behaviors will not be tolerated on this campus."
"Clearly we've got work to do, as I said, but are we alone in this?" he told Fox 61 on Thursday. "Everyone's got this work to do, right? Hatred is kind of fashionable at the moment, which is really unfortunate.
"So, let's come out of this stronger on the other side. Let's put into place not just a lot of talk, but actual things, right? Classes, seminars."
On Thursday, Connecticut Gov. Daniel P. Malloy's spokesman, Chris Collibee, said in a written statement:
"Governor Malloy strongly condemns these alleged, heinous actions and shares concern for the young woman who was the victim of these heinous acts. There is no place for discrimination, hate crimes, or bullying in our society — much less in our places of education."
Brochu's case was transferred to Hartford Superior Court with a court date of Nov. 15.
A white man stabbed Ann Marie Washington in a subway station and "started punching her in her face because she was Black," a witness said.
A 57-year-old Black woman is recovering from surgery to repair a collapsed lung because while exiting a subway in Brooklyn, N.Y., she was punched in the mouth and stabbed by a white man who called her a "Black b--ch" The NYPD's Hate Crimes Task Force is investigating the attack as a hate crime.
Brennan Walker testified: "I turned back and I saw him aiming at me ... I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot."
The jury at Oakland County Circuit Court in Michigan found Jeffrey Craig Ziegler, age 53, guilty of assault with intent to do great bodily harm and possession of a firearm in the commission of a felony.
They deliberated less than three hours on Friday after closing arguments, where the prosecutor, Kelly Collins, argued that Ziegler "was the danger," not the teen. Brennan Walker narrowly escaped fatal injury because Ziegler forgot to turn off the safety on his 12-gauge Mossberg shotgun. The video showed he was unable to immediately fire at first, and police confirmed the safety was initially on.
Ziegler's attorney, Robert Morad, argued his client was firing a warning shot in the air one time and never chased after Walker.
The original charge was assault with intent to murder, punishable by up to life in prison, but Ziegler was convicted on the lesser charge and faces up to 10 years in prison.
He showed no emotion as the verdict was read.
Lisa Wright, Walker's mother, cried as the verdict was read. She had accused Ziegler of taking actions that were racially motivated. Her friend Carin Poole said justice was served "in some way."
Poole also said the hope was for a more serious charge.
According to a study done by the Equal Justice Initiative:
White defendants were 25 percent more likely than black defendants to have their most serious initial charge dropped or reduced to a less severe charge; approximately 15 percent more likely than similar black defendants to be convicted of a misdemeanor instead. White defendants with no prior convictions were over 25 percent more likely than black defendants with no prior convictions to receive a charge reduction.
Ziegler testified that he thought Walker was an adult, at 6-feet, 2-inches tall, and that "instinct" made him grab his gun to protect his wife.
Walker testified: "I turned back and I saw him aiming at me... I was trying to run away faster and I heard a gunshot."
Morad said outside of court that the home security video could appear to show Ziegler was firing in Walker's direction, but said the shot goes away from where the teen was running.
Oakland County Sheriff Michael Bouchard said, "That's just completely unacceptable on every level. I don't know how you would justify it, but it certainly doesn't pass the muster," said Bouchard.
Judge Wendy Potts revoked Ziegler's bond and ordered him to jail pending sentencing Nov. 13.
Reader Question: When sentencing happens in a month, how much time in do you think Ziegler will be sentenced to?
Shooter on trial might face life in prison, if convicted.
Jeffrey Zeigler, who is on trial for shooting at a lost Black teen in Rochester Hills, Mich., watched as his wife, Dana, broke down in tears in Oakland County Circuit Court on Tuesday, while testifying about the April 12 shooting, and watching a video of the incident.
Dana said she was frightened when she saw Brennan Walker, a 14-year-old Black teen, on her porch.
"What are you doing on my porch?" she recalled. "I saw a Black person standing at my door and I screamed at him, and I asked him what he was doing there."
Her report to police: "A Black male was trying to break into her house and her husband chased after him into the yard."
The video shows Zeigler aiming at the teen, despite the claims that he tripped and his gun fired.
Rochester Hills Michigan 6 months ago.
The surveillance footage was just released.
14 y/o Black Teen misses the bus to school & figures he knew the route well enough to walk the 4-mile route. He gets lost, stops to ask for directions, & nearly loses his life.
WHY WE KNEEL! pic.twitter.com/k3cnL3kO6u
— StanceGrounded (@_SJPeace_) October 11, 2018
Prosecutor Kelly Collins said that "being a bad shot does not negate one's intentions."
Walker, then age 14, had missed his bus to school that morning and came to the Zeigler's door for help. After his wife screamed, Zeigler fired a shotgun at the teen, but missed him.
Zeigler had referred to Walker, in an interview with a sheriff's deputy, as "that colored kid" at his front door. The defense initially claimed it was the interviewing officer who said "colored."
Zeigler also said he was "tired of being a victim."
His attorney, Rob Morad, has said that "race was not a factor in the shooting, but rather actions from passion instead of judgment," Morad told jurors. He said the couple had five previous break-ins and were on "high alert."
Walker's mother, Lisa Wright, who was also in tears in the courtroom watching the video of her son flee for his life, said that she believed the shooting was a hate crime and that she wanted to see the prosecution push this to the fullest extent.
In April, she said that she believed this was racially motivated. After watching a video near the time of the incident, she said: "You can hear the wife say, 'Why did these people choose my house?' Who are 'these people?' "
Walker testified that after he knocked on the front door, which is behind a screen door, Zeigler's wife accused him of trying to break in.
"I was scared," he testified. "I was trying to tell them that I was trying to get to high school, but they weren't listening."
Zeigler was arrested and released on $50,000 bond and ordered to wear a tracking device. He was charged with assault with intent to murder, which could lead to life in prison, Oakland County District Attorney Jessica R. Cooper said, along with use of a firearm in a felony.
Zeigler also has a conviction for firing a handgun at another motorist during a dispute in 2004.
Reader Question: Watching the video, would you say Zeigler is innocent or guilty of intent to murder?
"How many times can we say the N-word to the bartender before we get kicked out," Joden Rocco said in a video.
Joden Rocco, a 24-year old white man, tried to see how many times he could say the N-word before getting kicked out of a bar in Pittsburgh. Rocco's game resulted in him killing a Black man, Dulane Cameron Jr., also age 24.
"This man sent texts that were violent and racist," Almitra Buzan said.
Ketchazo Paho, an African immigrant, suffered a head injury.
In the nation's capital, Maxim Smith, who is white, bashed a Black man, Ketchazo Paho, in the head with a bicycle lock. The wound was so deep that he needed 18 stitches.
Potential hate crime perpetrator's employer may fire him.
Paul Sheehan of Dorchester, Mass., threatened NeNe Judge'Mayo, a Black motorcyclist and her husband, and yelled "F*ck that N**ger," as the cyclists had pulled over in the Adams Village neighborhood to figure out their directions.
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"We all believe it was a hate crime," said Frederick Taft's daughter.
Frederick Taft celebrated with 40 to 50 of his relatives during a family reunion at Pan American Park in Long Beach, Calif., not knowing that it would be the last time. Taft was shot and killed inside a restroom that afternoon. His relatives said a white man murdered him because he was Black.