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University of Illinois Student Faces Jail Time for Throwing Rock at Jews

A University of Illinois student who admitted to police that he threw a rock at students gathered at a Jewish center on campus during a protest march in April has been charged with committing a hate crime.

State’s Attorney Julia Rietz said the charge against Sayed Quraishi, 23, who listed an address in the first block of East Green Street, Champaign, is a Class 3 felony punishable by penalties ranging from probation to two to five years in prison.

The allegation is that Quraishi alarmed people at the Hillel Center, 503 E. John St., C, a known gathering spot for Jewish students at the UI, as he participated in a march protesting Israeli military action.

A summary of a UI police report about the incident said about 5 p.m. April 18, Students for Justice in Palestine, a registered student organization, held a protest march that began at Foellinger Auditorium on the Quad, then went to the office of the vice chancellor for diversity, equity and inclusion, then to Hillel, then the Swanlund Administration Building before ending at the Alma Mater statue in front of the Illini Union.

UI police estimated about 75 people gathered outside Hillel, where speakers used bullhorns to make speeches. In response to the march, Jewish students and staff at Hillel gathered on an outdoor patio to play music and have snacks.

One of the Hillel staff members saw a person in the crowd throw a rock toward the Jewish students.

Captured on surveillance video, UI police identified Quraishi as the alleged rock thrower. He told them he was present to support the Palestinian group and that he felt the Jewish students were being disrespectful as the Palestinian speakers talked of women and children being killed. He said he threw the rock in the direction of the Jewish students knowing that it is a sign of protest where a rock is used as a weapon.

He was issued a notice to appear in court Tuesday, where Judge Brett Olmstead read him the charge, allowed him to remain free on his own recognizance, and told him to return to court Tuesday with an attorney.