A 32-year-old Virginia college professor who is active in protests against South Africa's racial policies was attacked Tuesday night in Virginia Beach by two masked men who then carved the word "NIGER" on his abdomen with a pair of scissors.
Richard E. Lapchick, a white associate professor of political science at Virginia Wesleyan College, said yesterday two men forced their way into his campus office, beat him with drawers from a file cabinet and a wooden statue and called him a "nigger lover."
Lapchick, who is head of a group protesting the upcoming Davis Cup tennis tournament between the United States and South Africa, said the intruders demanded to know if he planned to go ahead with the demonstrations against the March 17-through-19 tournament in Nashville, Tenn.
Lapchick, the son of the late, famous college and professional basketball coach Joe Lapchick, said he never got a chance to answer because the two men gagged him and continued to beat him on his face, chest and abdomen as they shouted racial epithets at him.
In a telephone interview from a Virginia Beach hospital bed, Lapchick said the men shouted. "Will you continue to do what you've been doing?" and "You have no business in South Africa," as they hit him.
He said the men heat him into unconsciousness. After passong out, Lapchick said he awakened and found one man carving something on his stomach, which later turned out to be the word "NIGER."
Virginia Beach police Sgt. W.D. Haden said the assailants apparently were trying to spell the word "nigger," but "They left out a 'g' or didn't have enough room."
Lapchick said a noise outside his office startled the instruders, who fled after pushing a steel book case on top of him.
Lapchick said the incident occurred shortly after 10:30 p.m., but could not remember exactly how long it lasted. The college professor managed to call campus police, who alerted the Virginia Beach police and they arrived at 11:15 p.m.
Lapchick was taken to a Virginia Beach hospital, where he remained last night in satisfactory condition with cuts and bruises to his face, chest, abdomen, arms and legs and with internal injuries.
Police said they have made no arrests.
From his hospital bed, Lapchick vowed yesterday to continue his protest of the tennis tournament and his strong criticism of South Africa's apartheid racial policies.
"It (the attack) will only intensify my plans," said Lapchick, who heads the American Coordinating Committee for Equality in Sport and Society (ACCESS), an organization of 26 civil rights groups calling for a U.S. boycott of sports competition with teams representing South Africa.
Lapchick, who was described by a Virginia Wesleyan College official as "a very energetic, very articulate, very hard-working member of the faculty," said he previously had received telephone threats on his life but he considered them "crank calls."
He said this is the first time he has ever been physically attacked because of his beliefs. "I thought this area had gone by," Lapchick said.
Lapchick's father, who caoched the New York Knicks in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was the first coach, in 1948, to desegregate a National Bas-Basketball Association of America, the forerunner of the NationalBasketball Association.