A Saudi college student was beaten to death in Wisconsin and the police have no leads

Even before Election Day forced all the hate and racism that exists in this country up to the surface, a Saudi student was beaten to death in Wisconsin last Sunday. Hussain Saeed Alnahdi was a 24-year-old junior majoring in business administration at the University of Wisconsin. On Sunday, Oct. 20, Alnahdi was found beaten on the street outside a pizza restaurant in Menomonie, Wisconsin, where the campus is located. He died on Monday from his wounds.

The town is rattled, since the police are still investigating the beating and have no leads. A street camera spotted a six-foot-tall white man assaulting Alnahdi, but the police have no motive and, according to The New York Times, aren’t sure if there is an ongoing threat to Muslims in the area. If only they could find the assailant and find out.

The university has about 9,000 students, which includes 124 Saudi students who are reportedly super tight. Alnahdi’s death has understandably scared the crap out of them. “I never met a single person who didn’t like Hussain or didn’t instantly fall in love with his character,” Zion Guzman, one of Alnahdi’s roommates, told The Washington Post. The international student liked picking up American slang, went home with friends to meet their families, and was obsessed with American cheese.

Here’s the thing: it was Halloween weekend in a small college town. Alnahdi was hanging out at a bar with friends across the street from where he was found unconscious and bleeding. The streets weren’t deserted. It’s very likely someone knows who did it. “I would assume a decent amount of people saw it,” Alex Van Keulen, a senior who was at the pizza place 40 minutes after the assault, told NBC News. “It was Halloween. It’s definitely something that’s been buzzed and talked about on campus.” Only one witness has come forward to say they saw the man flee the scene on foot.

Commander Todd Swartz of the Menomonie Police Department told NBC News, “There was quite a bit of pedestrian traffic in and around the area at the time of the assault.” They’re still treating it as a homicide and not a hate crime since they don’t know the motive. There is a $15,000 award and the FBI has reportedly joined the investigation.

The attack took place before the election in a state that went heavily for Trump, and although there is no motive, it’s hard to not believe the beating wasn’t racially motivated. Days before the beating, a University of Wisconsin football game was interrupted by a student dressed up as President Obama in a noose.

In the days after the election, Muslims, people of color, and LGBTQ people have been targeted with harassment and violence all over America. Although this was pre-election, the rhetoric of the campaign was ugly enough to provoke other violent attacks. Language matters and language usually leads to action. Let’s hope there aren’t more stories like Alnahdi’s.