Local man arrested for hate crime against University Muslim student


The Daily Illini File Photo

The University of Illinois police on campus.

By Joseph Longo, Assistant News Editor

On Nov. 2, a University Muslim student rode a crowded Mass Transit District bus in Urbana. She alleges an offender pulled off her headscarf from behind. After the offender released the headscarf, the 21-year-old female traded seats with another bus patron. Yet, the man continued irrationally yelling about Chicago sports teams and a dislike of Muslims.   

Over two weeks later, on Nov. 18, Clifford Gottschall, a 58-year-old homeless man, was arrested on preliminary charges of hate crime and aggravated battery as the alleged offender.

The Urbana Police Department released a report today detailing the alleged incident and subsequent arrest. Lt. Bryant Seraphin of Urbana Police’s Patrol Division issued the report.

On Nov. 4, two days after the alleged incident, Urbana police were dispatched following a report filed by the victim.

No weapons were seen or implied during the encounter, the report said. The victim did not report any injuries.

Gottschall appeared intoxicated at the time of the incident, the report said.

Using the suspect description and bus surveillance footage, Urbana police conducted a widespread investigation, including witness testimonies, photo line-ups, and coordination with other agencies.

At the time of his arrest, Gottschall was already in custody at the Champaign County Jail. On the same day of the alleged bus incident, Champaign police arrested Gottschall for aggravated battery and criminal damage to property.

Both the University and Champaign police departments contributed to the investigation, headed by Urbana police.  

“(We) understand the current climate and wish to let the public know that local law enforcement will make strong efforts to investigate all criminal offenses, including hate crimes,” Seraphin said in the report.

As the investigation is ongoing, anyone with information is encouraged to call the Urbana Police Department at 217-384-2320.

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