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Continued: Politics prompted her assault, Augsburg student says

  • Article by: PAUL WALSH , Star Tribune
  • Last update: November 12, 2008 - 7:15 AM

An Augsburg College student and Sarah Palin supporter from Alaska was beaten on election night while walking to her dorm and was called a racist by a group of four young women because she had on a McCain/Palin presidential campaign button, authorities and the victim said.

Annie Grossmann, a freshman on the Minneapolis college's hockey team, suffered blurred vision and is thought to have had a concussion from a punch in the eye, but declined medical attention, she said.

Through her mother, Grossmann, 18, of Delta Junction, reported the assault to campus security the next morning, and Minneapolis police were notified that afternoon. No arrests have been made.

Grossmann said she was in a dorm lobby with a handful of fellow Republicans watching election returns with "a bunch of Democrats around next to me, cheering [Barack] Obama on and rubbing it in our faces."

Once it was obvious that Obama was going to win, Grossmann said, she left the building alone shortly after 9:30 p.m. and headed to her room.

Under a skyway connecting the two buildings, four women "bigger than I am" came up to her, she said.

"One approached me and got in my face and called me racist because I had the pin on. That really ticked me off, but I kind of left it alone because she was so much bigger than I am," said Grossmann. She is 5 feet 2 and weighs 120 pounds, and played boys high school hockey in Alaska. "The girls in the background were just a little bigger than me. They were mocking me from the sidelines.

"I didn't say anything. ... This one [bigger] girl grabbed me by the shoulders and was holding me. After about five minutes, I just wanted to get out of there."

Grossmann, who is white, said she told the women, who were black, "You guys don't even know me. There's no reason to think I'm racist."

At that point, she said, she pushed the bigger one in the group, and "she punched me, and the back of my head hit a brick wall."

"'Are you serious?''' she recalled saying to the women. After cursing at Grossmann, the women left, and "I held my eye and went to my room."

The team trainer, who checked her out the next day, said she probably had a concussion and barred her from practice for two days. She said she's also been required by the school to attend counseling and missed a day of classes.

As for her future at the college, she said, "I love Augsburg, and I love the team here. I have no plans on leaving." However, she added, "there are a few things that can change here, conservative versus liberal."

Augsburg spokesman Jeff Shelman said the school doubts that the women are students, citing a review of dorm building video surveillance that evening and the fact that the victim didn't recognize any of them.

Grossmann's parents, Bruce and Dawn, said that in the weeks leading up to the presidential election, Annie had trouble on campus because of her political leanings and for being a hunter.

Bruce Grossmann said a "PETA person" had to be removed from her dorm room because he was upset by a photo of her with a black bear she had shot. Also, he said, she attended an icebreaker on campus and was booed when she identified herself as a Republican.

"I don't think she was prepared for the close-mindedness," he said. "I told her she needs to take a lower profile [for the sake of] her academic and her sports careers."

Dawn Grossmann, a Delta Junction City Council member and chairwoman of a state commission that oversees public service funding in Alaska, said some professors and fellow students gave her a hard time for backing the GOP ticket. Citing academic privacy restrictions, Shelman said he could not confirm the other incidents the Grossmanns mentioned.

Dawn Grossmann has met with Palin for government business purposes and sent her daughter Palin campaign T-shirts. Bruce Grossmann said that Annie has also met Palin, is "very proud of Sarah Palin" and considers her "a role model."

Dawn Grossmann described Delta Junction as "small-town conservative" and "being in Minneapolis, that's very much of a change" for her daughter.

"She was surprised by how politically active the campus was," Annie's mother said. "She got a lesson right off the bat."

In October, a 20-year-old McCain campaign volunteer in Pennsylvania made up a story of being robbed and having the backwards letter "B" scratched on her face in a politically inspired attack.

Police and Augsburg University say they have no reason to suspect Grossmann was not assaulted.Paul Walsh • 612-673-4482

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