Student Arrested During Kresge Hate Crime Faces 15 Years in Prison

A former Kresge student is charged with felony assault and felony battery as the result of a fight in which a student was allegedly targeted for being gay. Photo by Alex Posis.
A former Kresge student is charged with felony assault and felony battery as the result of a fight in which a student was allegedly targeted for being gay. Photo by Alex Posis.

After a hate crime at a Kresge apartment last February, former UC Santa Cruz student and his mutual friend each face up to 15 years in prison. Brandon Beaton, who lived at Kresge, and Jesse Robles were charged with felony assault and felony battery and are set to begin trial March 28. Enhancements on the crime include causing great bodily injury and hate crime.

On Feb. 18, a Kresge student was injured during a fight involving multiple people. It was allegedly started by Beaton, who made homophobic slurs against another Kresge student.

Robles, who participated in the fight, was a friend of Beaton’s and visiting UCSC. One victim of the fight suffered a concussion, a fractured jaw, dislocated hip and a broken wrist, and another had his nose broken.

Witnesses of the attack that night remember that the targeted student, who Beaton allegedly made a derogatory comment about his lip ring to, was punched once and fell to the ground, appearing unresponsive.

One of the other victims of the fight said that “when [the victim of the hate crime] was with the doctor, the doctor said if the force applied to his hip was applied to his head, he would have died instantly.”

In February, one of the victims said he and his friends were standing outside saying, “I don’t want to fight” repeatedly, when the student arrested was trying to pick a fight. The victim said that “[Beaton] was throwing homophobic slurs out the door and asking us if we were gay and said, ‘You better not be gay, that’s not okay, you better not be gay, you better tell me right now,’ and then knocked [the targeted victim of the alleged hate crime] out and kept on kicking him on the ground.”

“It’s no longer a fight at that point. The motive was clearly hate,” he said on Feb. 8.

A petition on behalf of “Queer, Trans, Gender Non-Conforming, Ally, People of Color, and all other marginalized people within [UCSC]” made demands to administration, following the lack of university response to the hate crime. The primary response was a “Strength Through Solidarity” event, which served as a town hall meeting where students began to heal.

“We’ve always been united but today showed that if something happens to our community we can come together in a peaceful manner without violence,” said one of the organizers at the event in February. “We want to get our voices heard and to stand up for what we believe in and for others no matter what their identity.”

Additionally, students made formal demands to the university, including multi-stall all-gender restroom within walking distance of all places on campus, free self-defense classes, the hire of queer-specialist professional staff, and implementation of mandatory university-wide trainings to educate about queer, trans, and gender non-conforming life, existence, terminology and issues.

In an email to all students, Executive Vice Chancellor Alison Galloway previously said, “I want to assure the campus community that we are investigating this hate-crime allegation with the seriousness it deserves.” As the investigating and arresting agency, UCSC Police Department will be involved in the upcoming trial, Police Chief Nader Oweis said.