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South Bay trans student attacked

by Seth Hemmelgarn

RIGHT: DeeJea Smith shows his injuries after being attacked. Photo: Courtesy Facebook  LEFT: Sketch of suspect
RIGHT: DeeJea Smith shows his injuries after being attacked. Photo: Courtesy Facebook LEFT: Sketch of suspect  

A South Bay transgender college student was recently attacked in what police are investigating as a hate crime.

De Anza College sophomore DeeJea Smith, 28, said in a Facebook post that he was attacked by a man who called him a "faggot" and punched him in the mouth. Smith tagged the post "#trumpsamerica."

In an interview, Smith, who lives in San Jose, told the Bay Area Reporter that in another incident just days before the January 24 attack, someone had called him a "faggot" and hit him from behind.

"Police assume it was the same person," said Smith.

Both attacks happened in a garage on the school's Cupertino campus, he said.

Foothill-De Anza Community College District Police Chief Ron Levine confirmed his agency is investigating the latest incident as a hate crime.

Police have distributed a flyer with a description of the suspect to other law enforcement agencies and have increased foot and vehicle patrols, said Levine. As of Monday afternoon, no arrests had been made.

In a statement about the incident, De Anza President Brian Murphy said, "While a deep commitment to equity and inclusion define De Anza College, we are not immune from demonstrations of hatred made more permissible by the presidency of Donald Trump."

Murphy said that in addition to what happened to Smith, white supremacist groups have used posters to try to recruit people at the college, and "offensive graffiti occasionally occurs."

School officials are working on a series of events to counter white supremacy and other forms of hatred "unleashed by Trump and his base," said Murphy.

Administrators also said in a statement, "We are saddened and angered that such an incident could occur on our campus, which is deeply committed to inclusion."

In response to Smith's incident, the school was set Wednesday to have a screening of "The Laramie Project," a film about the 1998 murder of gay University of Wyoming student Matthew Shepard. A conversation about how De Anza's communities could respond to homophobia was to take place after the screening.


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