Violence reported in other communities

By Stewart Warren

DeKalb is not the only Illinois university community having problems with unprovoked violent incidents involving black attackers and white victims.

Since October 1991, eight incidents of black on white violence were reported to DeKalb Police. Local authorities do not know who is responsible.

In Champaign, there were 11 incidents of violence in the University of Illinois tavern area during September and October 1991, said Champaign Police Department spokeswoman Rebecca Hall.

Typically, a few black men would walk down the street together and sling their arms and jostle white people, Hall said. The object of the game was to harass the largest white man, she said.

If a person they pushed turned and said anything, a fight would start. “There was some concern that it was part of a high school gang initiation known as ‘polar bear bashing,'” she said.

The victims told police that they did not provoke the attacks, Hall said.

Several arrests were made, and the Champaign Police have not had any similar problems since. “It was not a continuous thing, but all of it happened in the campus area,” she said.

In Charleston, there were two violent incidents at fast food restaurants in the summer of 1991, said Charleston Police Chief Herb Steidinger. “The blacks call it ‘polar bear bashing,'” he said.

One incident was particularly vicious. The attackers were “no longer just hitting them. When the victims went down, they would kick them in the head,” Steidinger said.

Hall and Steidinger said they think high school students might be responsible for the violence.