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News ‘These boys felt empowered by Trump’s words’: Student speaks...

‘These boys felt empowered by Trump’s words’: Student speaks out as UPD investigates assault

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According to sophomore marine biology major Kaitlyn Buckley, two males wearing long-sleeved blue “Trump 2016” T-shirts accosted her at the Payne Center parking lot on the The University of Southern Mississippi Hattiesburg campus.

“One was about [6 feet tall] and had long, blonde hair,” Buckley said. “The other was about [5 feet 10 inches tall] and had dark hair. As I passed them, the blonde reached out and grabbed my butt.”

Buckley said that she immediately shoved the boy off of her, causing him to fall down.

“[Pushing him down] was not my intention, but I certainly don’t feel that it was unnecessary,” she said.

The boy then allegedly called her a liberal b****, among other things and threatened to call campus police, according to Buckley.

“I told him that I would be happy to tell the police what happened, when his friend pointed out that no one saw what happened, and that they would both say I attacked them for their political affiliations,” Buckley said. “[I] never mentioned anything related to politics during the encounter.”

“I was a little nervous at this point,” she said. “Not because I was worried about campus police, but because they were both visibly angry and much larger than me.”

Buckley said she started to walk away from them. At that point, the dark-haired boy allegedly said, “Trump is going to be president now, so you better get used to it.”

“I was very shocked,” Buckley said. “[I] called campus police as soon as I got out [of class]. An officer met with me, took my information and told me they would investigate. About 20 minutes later, the same officer called me to ask a few more questions and mentioned that someone else had recently filed a similar report.”

Buckley said that she does not believe this is the way all Trump supporters act, but she thinks that Trump’s supporters should be making efforts to prevent this type of behavior rather than assuming the ‘not all Trump supporters’ defense.

“These boys felt empowered by Trump’s words and validated by his ultimate win in the election,” she said. “While this was an extreme case and these boys were certainly indecent people, they were still proud to represent Trump in this manner. They thought they could get away with it, which is a big problem that needs to be addressed by everyone.”

Many students heard Buckley’s stories through a public post she made on Facebook, which has been shared more than 200 times and provided specifics of the incident.

“I hoped [the post] would get around to my friends, who could be on the lookout for these boys,” she said. “As soon as I posted the incident, I received an overwhelming amount of support. Many of my friends and family members contacted campus police as well as school officials asking what’s being done to resolve the issue. Along with the mostly positive responses, however, came many claims that I had made the whole thing up.”

Buckley mentioned one woman in particular who, convinced that Buckley was lying, called campus police on her behalf. Campus police then allegedly confirmed the report and the ongoing investigation.

“I cannot make anyone believe that I’m telling the truth, but I know what happened and I would not wish [it] on anyone,” Buckley said. “I made the story public to make others aware of the situation, and I stand by that decision.”

Buckley said anyone who fears for his or her safety in light of this occurrence and other similar incidents should remain cautious.

“I carry pepper spray, [which] I now wish I had used, and I would encourage all girls [to] do the same,” she said. “I want to let [those who are afraid] know that their feelings are valid, and they don’t need to ‘just get over it.’ Most importantly, I urge anyone who sees this type of behavior to please report it.

“Campus police need to be made aware in order to stop these incidents from happening, and in doing so, you could save someone else from experiencing the same thing.”

“After hearing that another girl reported these same boys, I wish that I had called campus police as soon as it happened so that they could have had a better chance of catching the guys,” Buckley said. “I now want to do everything I can to stop this and similar events from occurring in the future.”

According to Capt. Rusty Keyes, university police received a report from a student Nov. 10, at 11:15 a.m. regarding an incident near the Payne Center parking lot at approximately nine that morning.

“UPD immediately followed up on the report and is continuing to investigate the incident,” said Director of University Communications and Chief Communications Officer Jim Coll. “If members of the Southern Miss community have related information, they are encouraged to contact UPD at 601.266.4986.”

Coll said the university takes reports of harassment and intimidation seriously and remains steadfast in its commitment to fostering an inclusive environment that supports all members of its community.


 

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