Police in Michigan do not think that an attack on a Jewish student at Michigan State University at an-off campus party was a hate crime, despite the fact that Zach Tennen said his attackers asked him if he was Jewish, WDIV Detroit reported.
Tennen, 19, a resident of suburban Detroit, said he answered in the affirmative. He told the television station that his attackers also “were making Nazi and Hitler symbols and they said they were part of the KKK.”
Other people in attendance at the party helped Tennen call a taxi to take him to the hospital.
On Tuesday, East Lansing police said that the incident was probably not a hate crime, according to The Associated Press. The police did not return several calls from AP asking for more information, but the department’s statement said police have located two witnesses and identified a potential suspect, who “does not live in the area.”
The statement also said that the assault was “not likely a hate crime,” but did not explain the criteria for classifying a case as a hate crime or why the Tennen assault did not rise to that level.
The Anti-Defamation League (ADL) disagreed. “We are horrified by this violent assault and allegations that the student may have been viciously attacked because he was Jewish,” Detroit Regional director Betsy Kellman said in a press release on Tuesday.
She added that the ADL is “confident that the East Lansing Police will thoroughly investigate this deeply troubling case and… treat it as a possible hate crime. We hope the perpetrators will be swiftly brought to justice.”
Tennen acknowledged that he drank a small amount of alcohol at the party, but not enough to be drunk or to have passed out because of it.
On Monday evening Tennen was scheduled to have a wire placed in his broken jaw. He told WDIV that he wants “everyone to know how severe this is. They could have killed me. I’m going to try my best to make sure they don’t get away with this.”
JTA and AP contributed to this report.