John Greenwood '20, a 19-year-old Cornell student, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor charges, including assault, after a black student said he was punched in the face and called the N-word.

Inset via Cornell Big Red

John Greenwood '20, a 19-year-old Cornell student, was arrested and charged with two misdemeanor charges, including assault, after a black student said he was punched in the face and called the N-word.

September 20, 2017

Police Identify White Cornell Student Arrested Following Assault of Black Cornell Student

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This post has been updated.

Ithaca Police this week identified the Cornell student charged with two misdemeanors who they and witnesses say punched a black student in the face in Collegetown after yelling the N-word at him several times.

Police charged John P. A. Greenwood ’20, who is 19 and white, with third-degree assault and second-degree aggravated harassment after an altercation on Eddy Street that witnesses said left one student bloody and dizzy. Police are “reviewing the evidence that they have against the statutes that they have for a hate crime,” Mayor Svante Myrick ’09 said.

The victim, a junior and a member of Kappa Sigma who spoke to The Sun on the condition of anonymity, said he was coming home from a party when he noticed a group of people arguing with his friends in the driveway area of his residence. When he yelled for the people he did not know to leave, they began to walk away from the house, he said, before turning and yelling expletives and the N-word.

When the student confronted them, four or five white men began hitting him in the face, he told The Sun and police, according to documents filed in Ithaca City Court on Wednesday.

The arrested student, who also goes by Jack, played on the Cornell squash team, the team’s coach, David Palmer, confirmed to The Sun. Palmer said he cut Greenwood from the team on Sept. 11, preceding the Collegetown assault, because he had not been participating in team training on a regular basis.

Greenwood also may have been an underground member of Psi Upsilon, a fraternity that was suspended by the University in 2016, although the fraternity denies that Greenwood had any affiliation with Psi Upsilon.

Multiple members of Cornell’s men’s and women’s squash teams declined to comment. One member of the men’s team said he was “told not to talk about it” shortly before hanging up on a reporter on Tuesday night.

Greenwood said in a statement on Wednesday that the words he used were “unacceptable and inappropriate” and apologized for what he called “abhorrent” language. He did not refer to the assault charge, but his lawyer, Ray Schlather J.D. ’76, said Greenwood was “in no way involved in any physical altercation of any kind.”

Ithaca Police quoted the victim as saying he was positive Greenwood was “definitely one of the guys that jumped me. “

“I know for sure it was him,” the victim said of Greenwood, according to police.

When police asked the victim shortly after the assault why he thought he was targeted, he said he believed it was because he is black.

“I have a pretty good idea,” he told police, according to court documents. “They were calling me ‘Nigger,’ so I believe it was because of the color of my skin.”

Greenwood grew up in Toronto and attended Deerfield Academy in Massachusetts for high school, according to an archived version of a now-deleted sports profile on the Cornell athletics website. The player’s online squash profile was removed on Saturday, Jeremy Hartigan, a spokesperson for the Athletics Department, said. Police did not release a mugshot.

Alumni of the Psi Upsilon fraternity’s chapter at Cornell have denied accusations that its members were responsible for the assault, but a set of online flashcards seems to indicate that Psi Upsilon was secretly recruiting members while it was suspended by the University.

The flash cards, now deleted, are titled “Brothers,” and list Cornell students, their nicknames and hometowns, some of which The Sun was able to confirm with other social media profiles. On one card labeled “Doxology” is the phrase, “Oh God, Thy blessings now shed down / Upon our loved Psi Upsilion [sic].”

A Cornell student whose name matches that of the username managing the online flashcards — which were created in February of 2017 and are now deleted — blocked a Sun reporter on Facebook within 10 minutes of the reporter attempting to connect with the student.

Thomas Fox, executive director of the Psi Upsilon Fraternity’s International Office, said the group’s investigation had found that some members of the Cornell chapter, which the University suspended in May of 2016, had been secretly recruiting new members. The Executive Council of Psi Upsilon chose to extend the suspension of the fraternity at Cornell until at least the fall of 2020,

The Psi Upsilon alumni Board of Governors is immediately shuttering its fraternity at Cornell indefinitely and will allow its building to be used by student organizations that are “dedicated to promoting a diverse and inclusive student community” once scheduled renovations are complete “in 2018-19,” the University said.

Three witnesses who provided statements to Ithaca Police gave similar accounts of the incident, according to the court records filed on Wednesday.

One Cornell student said he saw the junior arguing with a group of men and encouraged him to return to his house on Eddy Street. As they moved away from the argument, one person followed them up to the steps of the porch, the first witness said, and when the witness told the man to leave, the man shoved him twice, the witness said.

The group of men began walking away from the house and “towards their place next door.” Two students, speaking anonymously out of fear for their safety, identified the residence at 306 Eddy St. — where police responded to the Friday morning 911 call regarding a fight — as Psi Upsilon’s unofficial annex. No one answered the door at the residence over the weekend on two separate days.

The first witness said the group of men was leaving when a white man in the group with “black wavy hair” yelled the N-word several times. The witness did not see the following altercation, but said he “heard a loud pop” and walked up the sidewalk to check on his friend — the junior Cornell student identified as the victim.

The witness said he saw the junior “walking funny, kind of staggering or swaying as he walked,” and that his shirt was soaked in blood from his nose. The witness helped clean the junior up and laid him down, after which the student complained of pain in his head and face. The junior previously told The Sun that he went to Cayuga Medical Center to test for a broken nose and concussion, of which he had neither.

A second witness said in a statement to Ithaca Police that a man in a white shirt “slapped me in the face and knocked some food I had out of my hand” after calling him the N-word and a variation of the epithet. The witness appears to be the same student who is arguing with two white men in a video obtained by The Sun on Friday.

Mirroring details in the victim’s and the first two witnesses’ accounts, a third witness said a man in a white button-up shirt came onto the porch of the victim’s house and shoved the other witness when he tried to get the man to leave. The man in the white shirt and two others left and began walking up the hill, the third witness said, when he yelled the N-word.

After the altercation, the victim “was bleeding from his nose area” and “had a lot of blood on his shirt and all over his face,” the third witness told police.

Greenwood is scheduled to be arraigned in Ithaca City Court at 9 a.m. on Sept. 27.

  • Alumni

    I don’t want to take away from the main issue which is the fact that there are definitely race issues on campus, and those should continue to be addressed. But, can the Sun confirm whether or not this kid is/was in a fraternity? Their initial reporting led many to write opinion pieces on Greek life, many of which make great points and have many good suggestions (some bad too). But, this is an important part of the story that, if initially reported incorrectly, should be noted and someone should be held accountable for the poor reporting. Then again, if in fact he was in the fraternity, I’m wrong. Just seemed like they were jumping to conclusions.

    • Lisa Glickstein

      From a comment on another site (not mine): “There’s only one John Greenwood in the Cornell directory: John Patrick Alexander Greenwood (jpg272). A quick google search finds this quizlet for the brothers of Psi U: (screenshot here: For anyone who doubted whether this was Psi U, you have your answer. The Cornell Daily Sun you might consider updating the article.” The quizlet has since been deleted. I’d be interested if this can be verified.

      • Lumerias Lumerati

        Here is a link to the cached version:

        Also, looking at some of the nicknames of some of the brothers:

        Jeremy Daniel Quartner
        Osama Bin ******
        Bethesda, MD
        French & Econ


        “John Patrick Alexander Greenwood

        NOW this is the law of the jungle- as old and as true as the sky. And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
        As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back- For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
        Oh God, Thy blessings now shed down
        Upon our loved Psi Upsilion;
        May all her ties of friendship be
        Strengthened and honored, Lord, By, thee”

      • Dwaboutit

        there’s a new link to the Psi U Brothers list.

      • Dwaboutit

        new link to the psi u brothers list

    • mma_ko

      Yes definitely there are issues. I wonder if the special treatment given to some minority groups is breeding resentment. Don’t tell me there isn’t. I’ve seen it first hand from special events and classes sponsored by the school that are “invitation only” during orientation.

      • La Chavalina

        I’m willing to bet that the squash team gets to hold “invitation only” events that the rest of the campus community is excluded from, too. So if we start punching them in the face at random intervals, is it justified?

        • mma_ko

          That is different. If a team or a frat or sorority wants a member only event that is their prerogative. These are held and supported by the administration solely becaause of ethnic background. I was stopped at the door and turned away because of race. On the squash front, just dissolve the team. I didn’t even know we had a squash team or anyone watches it. Problem solved.

      • The problem, of course, is entirely with those “resenting”. You may and can easily decide to just control your feelings. Hmm?

    • Lumerias Lumerati
    • Forum Noctua

      Psi U’s chapter was kicked off last Spring. However, brothers continued to recruit new individuals despite lack of recognition by the University. Thug Greenwood is one of Psi U’s underground members.

      • Jay Wind

        But he was not on the list that Psi U had submitted to Cornell this fall as one of the people who would restart the chapter in spring 2018.

        • Forum Noctua

          According to Psi U, I’m assuming?

        • Alumnus

          I assume that’s because he had been recruited during the period in which Psi U was banned from any activities, including recruitment. If he were included on the list, it would have proven that Psi U was recruiting new members, despite being prohibited from doing so.

        • Ravare

          When a frat is banned from the University, all new members are considered “underground” or “ghost”. Meaning they are accepted by the individuals of their chapter and other chapters, but on a national and “official” record they are not “members” of the Frat because there is no active chapter for them to be a member of at that school.

          Coming forward with his name to restart the chapter would be a red flag that this chapter was still bringing in members when they were not supposed to.

  • astudent

    The student that was charged was a member of the men’s squash team on campus, and the squash team quietly removed him from their roster on Saturday, soon after the incident.

  • Kay

    Why use the word “fight” to describe what happened? Fight implies that both parties were causing trouble when in fact one student was attacked and beat up. I would implore you to be careful of the language you use when reporting. Commonly, the media demonize Black people by using violent language to describe them. It concerns me when the Cornell Daily Sun is using the word fight to describe a Black person being beat up but racist individuals. Thank you and please don’t take my comment offensively, but rather pay attention to the words you use when describing oppressed groups.

  • surlybastard

    The silence coming from Cornell Athletics is troubling. Makes it look like they’re hiding something.

    • Brooklyn Swinga

      Hiding that they dont think he did anything wrong.

  • Kirk Brown

    The fraternity issued a pretty clear and unequivocal statement that this person was NOT a member. I assume they knew full well that his name would eventually be released and that information would be relatively easy to confirm. In addition to fraternities, are we going to pile on sports teams, specifically the squash team, because this idiot was associated with them. There is plenty of blame to go around but idiots are idiots whether they are in frats, on teams or just students. Deal with the idiots with ZERO tolerance but don’t paint every single person that shared some circle of life with the idiot as and idiot too.

    • mma_ko

      Ok so the idiot who acted rashly and spray painted the frat house should come forward and offer to clean the paint off.

      • Jay Wind

        Will the idiot try to spray paint the Grumman Squash Court next, or maybe Day Hall for botching this entire episode? The fact is that the BSU used emotion and political threats to take away the important procedural rights of all Cornell students. Any Cornell student can be falsely accused, and we need to know that Ryan Lombardi and Martha Pollack will follow the process and not make statements or take action until the facts are known.

      • Kirk Brown

        No. The idiot that vandalized the house should be prosecuted…vandalism is a crime. The idiot that used that racially hateful language and/or assaulted anyone should be prosecuted as well. Anyone who commits a crime should be prosecuted swiftly. We should have ZERO TOLERANCE for hate of any kind. Having said that, all of their roommates, suite mates, house mates, dorm mates, classmates, team mates, fraternity brothers and/or sisters, co-club members etc should be left alone UNLESS there is evidence to suggest that any of those groups and/or organizations were involved in any conspiracy or were in any other way directly connected to the crimes committed. It seems like whenever any member of a Greek organization commits a crime, many want to convict the entire organization without facts which support that the actions of one (or a few) are a direct result of the actions of the organization…and that would apply to ALL organizations.

    • Dwaboutit

      fraternity lied. heres a link to the brothers list, with this mans name clearly visible in the fourth image.

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  • Lumerias Lumerati

    “John Patrick Alexander Greenwood

    NOW this is the law of the jungle- as old and as true as the sky. And the wolf that shall keep it may prosper, but the wolf that shall break it must die.
    As the creeper that girdles the tree-trunk the Law runneth forward and back- For the strength of the pack is the wolf, and the strength of the wolf is the pack.
    Oh God, Thy blessings now shed down
    Upon our loved Psi Upsilion;
    May all her ties of friendship be
    Strengthened and honored, Lord, By, thee”

  • Pat O’Toole

    Was that Greenwood’s mug shot??

    • Lynda Wagoner Bogel

      nope; his Squash team picture, from 2016-7

    • Jonathan Pomboza

      where is the mug shot

      • Don Don

        Mug shots are only used in the media if they are minorities. This tactic was exposed when they exposed Operation Mockingbird.

        • John

          Completely irrelevant and baseless

          • jennifer 0.2

            Also accurate,apt & True!.

  • astudent

    While the student may have been kicked off the squash team for other reasons, they removed him from last year’s roster, when he still was a part of the team. This is a previous version of the roster
    And this is the current version
    Notice that there are 16 names in the current version while there are 17 athletes shown.

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  • crowdfinder

    On the video, the students looked pretty drunk. Along with equity/inclusion education, there need to be additional reminders to the community (stats? photos?) of the stupid things people are more likely to do when they drink too much. Also more policing of C-town to tamp down the house party scene and underage drinking.

    • Being intoxicated is no excuse for a hate crime any more than it is for drunk driving.

      • crowdfinder

        agree! it’s a separate issue but is related to an increase in physical and sexual assault, so it needs to be addressed IN ADDITION to equity/inclusion education.

  • ronald

    USA is a racist society -Greenwood will rec’d White justice- the racist rigged court system it always exonerate White Ppl. when they murder Black Ppl. It’s history folks -White folks murdering Bk. Ppl is as America as apple pie. It’s still public lynching in this racist society. KKK uniform today are the boys blue w/badges

    • MarcM

      FYI Greenwood is Canadian

      • Cornell Junior

        he still lives in the USA… within the american society

        • MrLogical

          You’re a Cornell junior?
          That should be “American” not “american.”
          You might consider enrolling in an 8th-grade grammar class.
          You know, getting the whole punctuation and capitalization thing squared away.
          Might help when you submit job applications and resumes.

          • Daniel Jones

            You’re an ass. Great job dodging the issue and picking out an insignificant error. Next time try to make an actual contribution to the conversation.

            P.S. Let me know if I made any grammatical errors. I really value your expertise.

          • EcoAdvocate

            it’s illogical to nitpick over a single punctuation error, MrIllogical.

  • Brooklyn Swinga

    He’ll be okay. Probably get a job at a firm in a few years a laugh about the time he knocked out a ….

  • baruchzed

    The nazification continues. Completely shameful. The Cornell administration is enabling nazis.

    • John

      Nazification? Really? Do you even know what a Nazi is?

      • Vault Dweller

        Depends on what kind of Nazi you’re talking about. You mean a registered member of the Nazi party in 1940 or do you mean someone who subscribes to pro-Nazi political beliefs in 2017? I think both are valid uses of the term. They’re not the same, but they’re similarly shitty and undeserving of sympathy.

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  • JBK007

    Entitled, racist prick, goes from private school into the ivy leagues, thinking he can do and say whatever the hell he wants. Gets bailed out by his rich Daddy, and his lawyer is probably on golfing terms with the DA and the judge on the case.

    If indeed found to be the perpetrator of this crime, I hope justice gets served, he’s charged with a hate crime, and serves enough time for him to get to prove how tough he is, without his squash crew backing him up, to all of his fellow inmates, on a daily basis….

    • desertCard

      And if NOT found to be the perpetrator of the crime will you and the rest apologize for YOUR comments and name calling?

      • JBK007

        Let’s wait until we have to cross that bridge 😉

  • Batters Box

    Try walking on the Southside of Chicago if you’re white,getting punched in the face is the least that would happen to you. I’m thinking many of these white commentators have lived sheltered lives and brainwashed not to have experienced or acknowledge the racism in black culture.

    • disqus_lWwzrwNaw6

      Have you ever been there? I have. The West Side as well. And I’ve never been threatened or menaced in any way.

    • Kristen Grunow Ricigliano

      Define “black culture,” please. I’m certain you don’t mean that black culture’s preferred way of behavior is to go around punching white people in the face.

      • Q.

        I’m certain that’s exactly what he/she/it means. Pure mythology.

    • Q.

      ^Yet another false, racist narrative. One, the Southside of Chicago is a pretty vast and diverse expanse of the city, not a singular, culturally homogeneous locale. Two, there are plenty of whites who live safely on the Southside of Chicago. They freely walk, jog and bike too.

      • desertCard

        But we’re still talking about the murder capital of the USA the past couple years. Almost across the board the murders were black on black or white.

        • Q.

          White on white murders are committed everyday, so what’s your point?

          • desertCard

            The vast majority of the murders in the South and West Sides of Chicago are committed by African Americans and the vast majority of victims are the same. That’s the point.

          • Q.

            And the vast majority of murders in the United States are committed by caucasians. How is either point relevant to my comment or this story, even?

    • parsyeb

      Nah, you’re just a wimp who’s afraid of black men.

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  • P Cornu

    Deerfield….seems that the 1% has its own problems with hate.

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  • Resident

    Psi U was full of a bunch of a*****e goons when I was a student at Cornell 30+ years ago. So nothing has changed. The members of Psi U killed our dog by tossing him into the gorge off a cliff.

  • Narby1

    Greenwood reminds me of Tucker Carlson.

  • Happy Jack

    Once again the Sun is judge and jury, a lynch mob, just as it was in the Nazaire murder. The alleged criminal is entitled to due process, no matter how unpopular, how politically incorrect.

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  • EcoAdvocate

    Where is the mugshot of this person? When people of color are arrested their mugshots are displayed prominately and the word ‘thug’ is thrown around. I guess having rich, and white, parents really helps keep things secret.
    FOIL request!

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