34 'persons of interest' identified in NY racial attack

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Thirty-four "persons of interest" have been identified in an alleged weekend assault on three black college students in Albany, N.Y., that officials have described as a racially motivated.

In an email to students and faculty on Monday, State University of New York at Albany Police Chief J. Frank Wiley said that 16 of those people had already been interviewed about the incident, which took place on a city bus early Saturday morning on the school's campus.

The three female students reported being "harassed and assaulted" by a group of 10 to 12 white men and women, University President Robert J. Jones said in a statement Saturday, adding that "racial slurs were used by the perpetrators.

One of the victims was transported to a local hospital, NBC affiliateWNYT reported. Her injuries were not identified.

"I am deeply concerned, saddened and angry about this incident," Jones said. "There is no place in the UAlbany community for violence, no place for racial intolerance and no place for gender violence."

In an earlier email, Wiley said that the "encounter began off-campus with verbal exchanges," but it had turned physical by the time the bus arrived at the university's main campus, just north of downtown Albany.

Authorities were reviewing cell phone video and footage from bus cameras, Wiley said.

On Monday afternoon, many of the hundreds who attended a rally in support of the victims chanted "black girls matter," WNYT reported.

"It's heartbreaking to hear something like that is happening in such a fine institution, in such a diverse community in 2016," Darius Fair, a junior at the school, told the station earlier Monday.

The allegations come at a time of racial turmoil at several university campuses around the country.

In November, University of Missouri president Tim Wolfe resigned amid growing protests over his handling of racism on campus. In California, the dean of Claremont McKenna College resigned after similar criticism, NBC Los Angeles reported, and protests have erupted at Yale University in Connecticut and Princeton in New Jersey.
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