Editor’s Note: The above video contains a series of separate clips posted by the same Instagram user. It is not the CDTA video reviewed Friday. They were combined for broadcast and first aired on Tuesday. The video may not depict the entire incident. No footage or whole clips of the fight were edited or removed.
A week after three black UAlbany students claim they were attacked on a CDTA bus, very few people can piece together just what happened on the ride.
Albany City Council President Carolyn McLaughlin was one of a few people hand-picked by District Attorney David Soares to watch video from CDTA cameras, as well as cell phone video from passengers. Alice Green, the Director of the Center for Law and Justice, joined McLaughlin.
Both McLaughlin and Green said that, while what happened can't be easily seen or heard, no gang assault can be seen. Perhaps unfortunately, they said, the answers that members of the community seek are not on the surveillance tape.
"We couldn't hear words," McLaughlin said. "We could just hear a lot of noise."
"It's pretty clear," Green added, "but because there's so many people on the bus and because this incident happened very quickly, it's rather difficult to determine from watching the video what was actually going on."
According to the police report, the three girls claim they were surrounded by at least 10 white students, who taunted them with racial slurs. One of the girls said she ended up on the floor and was kicked by white men.
"You were seeing the back of a lot of people, and so you couldn't see what was going on on the other side of maybe four or five gentlemen," McLaughlin said. "Were they trying to pull them apart? Was it something else? You see the young lady who did get up initially, but you don't know what happened over there."
What the girls say happened prompted a massive rally on campus, with the hashtag #DefendBlackGirls garnering a lot of attention on social media. That's why Soares says he wanted to get well-known leaders involved in the legal process his office is going through.
"We wanted to bring people up to date on our investigation," Soares said, "and we felt it was necessary given the climate and our observation of social media and the discussions and the threats that were going on."
The DA urged calm and patience as his office continues its investigation.
"It's going to take them a while to look at all this video," Green said, "to organize it, to talk to witnesses who were on the bus, talk to the people who claim they were victimized, and then put it all together to see if there was a crime committed."