A violent anti-Semitic hate crime took place early Sunday in East Lansing, Michigan when 19 year old Zachary Tennen was beaten unconscious and then had his mouth stapled by two men, according to his family.
Tennen, a sophomore at Michigan State University, was approached by the men at a party early on Sunday and asked if he was Jewish, his mother said. The men proceeded to raise their right arms in a Nazi salute and said “Heil Hitler”, before beating Tennen unconscious. According to Tennen’s mother, 20 people watched while her son had his mouth stapled by the two suspects.
“It’s an awful hate crime, and what he’s gone through emotionally and physically, it’s scary to put it into words,” Tina Tennen told the Indianapolis Star. “Hopefully the worst is behind us. It’s going to be hopefully not too rough.”
Following the attack, Tennen took a cab to a nearby hospital and would eventually receive surgery to have his jaw wired shut in Detroit.
“I hope that they get prosecuted, go to jail,” Tina Tennen told The Star. “You hear about it in the news, but I guess it’s something that you think never will happen to you.”
Michigan State has approximately 3,000 Jewish undergraduate students on campus, according to Hillel, while Oakland County, where Tennen’s family lives, has a Jewish population near 80,000, nearly 7% of the county’s overall number. Tennen’s mother said her family has spoken with the school and they have been responsive.
“The school’s been involved; we’ve been in touch with them. They’ve outreached to us. But we’re still trying to find them (the attackers). The job isn’t done.”
UPDATE: On Tuesday, East Lansing police announced that they did not believe the attack was a hate crime.