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Tuesday, July 22, 2014
On Campus

Two students arrested for cotton ball crime

Two students were arrested on suspicion of hate crimes and second-degree tampering Tuesday for allegedly dropping cotton balls outside the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center last week.

Senior psychology major Zachary Tucker and freshman political science major Sean Fitzgerald were released from the Boone County Jail after posting $4,500 in bond.

According to an MU Police Department news release, the two students were arrested at approximately 7:30 p.m. Tuesday after receiving an anonymous tip.

In an e-mail to students Wednesday morning, Chancellor Brady Deaton temporarily suspended both Tucker and Fitzgerald for their alleged involvement in the incident.

Deaton said he determined temporary suspension was in the best interest of the university community.

Read the full story here.

— News Editor Lyndsie Manusos contributed to this report

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Entry comments

March 3, 2010 at 11:37 a.m.

patrick: I am from Missouri and this behavior is so typical for the Midwest. I hope they will lose their status as students and be prevented from graduating

March 3, 2010 at 11:53 a.m.

Richard: Temporary suspension? Are you kidding me? These idiots demeaned and demoralized all of our Black students and faculty, and this incident surely will not be forgotten by alumni, students, and potential enrollees. Why would I donate to a school that slaps racists on the wrist? Why would I feel proud to say this is my alma mater? Why would I apply here? How do you think it feels to be Black on campus right now? We are in the year 2010. Racist actions like this have no place on our campus, and it is sickening that these dickwads will just get some time off and then they'll be back on campus. To summarize: Two students put COTTON BALLS all over the lawn of the BLACK CULTURE CENTER, get caught and get a TEMPORARY SUSPENSION. Copying and pasting has harsher punishment! C'mon Deaton!

March 3, 2010 at 12:24 p.m.

Holly: This is typical? No, actually I am from a small town n MO & went to Mizzou for 4 years & I can tell u this is NOT typical. Unfortunately there are racist people both white AND black in every state, but DONT smear the good name of Missouri people who are generally genuinely good, hardworking, kind people because 2 piece of s**ts thought this would be cool or funny.

March 3, 2010 at 12:47 p.m.

Erica: This behavior is typical for the midwest? So far they were arrested because of a supposed allogation given by a "witness", one in fact who no one knows, especially if it was called into crimestoppers or another "quiet witness" source, thus meaning the "witness" could be anyone, they could be someone setting these two guys up, or anything for that matter. Don't jump to conclusions until you know the hardcore facts. These guys are both to be considered innocent until proven guilty so give them the benefit of the doubt for pete's sake!

March 3, 2010 at 1:15 p.m.

Beth: Richard - Dial it down a notch. These two have been arrested, NOT convicted. Temporary suspension is a safe halfway point for Mizzou until the criminal case is tried. If convicted, they'll face either expulsion or suspension. If not convicted, then this was just Mizzou protecting them from the understandable enmity of other students. patrick - Innocent until proven guilty, for one thing. For another, if this was "typical for the Midwest" then these sorts of incidents would happen way more often than they do. An act of this nature is, in fact, atypical.

March 3, 2010 at 1:17 p.m.

LaTonya: This behavior is not acceptable and this was a stupid thing to do and should not be taken lightly. However, i know these boys, and know for a fact they are not racist. I am an african american student from mizzou and am very close to Zachary. Most of his friends are of a different ethnicity than him and he has a heart of gold. Sometimes when boys get together they do stupid ignorant things without thinking about the consequences or how they may affect other people. And that is exactly what happened here. Before you start judging them so harshly for their idiocy, try looking back at the stupid things you've done in the past because im sure none of you are perfect either.

March 3, 2010 at 1:22 p.m.

Laura: I hope the temporary suspension for the alleged involvement is just an interim sanction - once there is a hearing, if it is found that these students are responsible, I will be disappointed if there is no further action.

March 3, 2010 at 1:26 p.m.

RP: These boys are very nice boys. They don't deserve this!

March 3, 2010 at 1:27 p.m.

E.: What happened to "innocent until proven guilty." Temporary suspension is appropriate under the current circumstances. So shut up.

March 3, 2010 at 2:06 p.m.

jenny: Check out Zach's expression in his mug shot. Priceless.

March 3, 2010 at 2:32 p.m.

Nick: They don't deserve this? First, let's give them a full trial or hearing so that they can defend themselves against the allegation. (Although I would bet Tucker's guilty, given his posing for the mugshot) Second...RP: They don't deserve this? Perhaps if they didn't do it. However, if they did it, they deserve full expulsion from Mizzou, and they deserve to have it reflected in their record for a good long while.

March 3, 2010 at 3:01 p.m.

David: Well, it must have seemed like a good idea at the time.

March 3, 2010 at 3:12 p.m.

Alex: There are no LaTonyas currently attending Mizzou. Interesting.

March 3, 2010 at 3:25 p.m.

Michael: I hope it was meant as a harmless prank. I feel for the parents of the young man who is a senior. Oh, by the way I am black and believe WE all make mistakes.

March 3, 2010 at 4:04 p.m.

Bruce Flitt: Lusers

March 3, 2010 at 4:23 p.m.

Tom: Nobody close to Mr. Tucker calls him Zachary, "LaTonya."

March 3, 2010 at 4:24 p.m.

Dan: When I first heard of this, I thought it was a late night prank by some juvinile students. Take it for what it is. Whoever did this made a mistake but it appears to be a PRANK. If my black neighbors threw crackers in my yard, I would laugh. If someone broke my windows or threatened me, I would take it serious. This world needs to lighten up.

March 3, 2010 at 4:58 p.m.

Peg: And what about the "minority" woman who left a NOOSE on UCSD's campus? Firt it was a "hate crime;" now, because she's a minority, it has de-escalated to a "prank." P.S. Cotton balls? Took me a bit of time to even figure this one out. What other symbols of oppression are there out there to avoid? Because I don't want to be committing a hate crime.

March 3, 2010 at 7:38 p.m.

Emily: Instead of kicking these boys out of school or throwing them in jail and completely ruining the rest of their lives, the administration should put them in charge of a diversity initiative or something of the sort. Force them to complete a project designated by the Black Culture Center and prove the experience has changed them in some way. Anything but kicking them to the curb. What kind of educational institution would do such a thing? Fight negativity with positivity. Fight hate with love. The university should take this as an opportunity to actually teach students something.

March 3, 2010 at 9:01 p.m.

The Amazing Rando!: I agree with Emily. In situations especially like these, we need to leave room for rehabilitation, reconciliation, and forgiveness. We've got to fight fire with water.

March 3, 2010 at 9:39 p.m.

LaTonya: Alex, LaTonya has been my nickname since I was a kid, but thanks for your concern. and Tom, if you knew Zachary you would know that the closest people to him are the ones who call him Zachary. Try calling him Zach in front of his mom, you'll get your head torn off.

March 3, 2010 at 9:40 p.m.

Jim: patrick, you can go to hell...very few people from the midwest are like that, and i dont appreciate being lumpped into your "white suppremest" majority...people are people, no matter what color

March 3, 2010 at 11:29 p.m.

jason lark: really is it that big of a deal?? it just shows how out of touch with time that these guys are if anything u should feel sorry for them for being so stupid....hello we have a black prezz this kinda stuff just shows how outa touch with time that they are why bother giveing them the time of day

March 4, 2010 at 2:30 p.m.

poppy: I grew up in Southwest Missouri. The same city where Rush Limbaugh comes from. There is an old movie that says 'nothing good ever came out of Missouri'. That said, people ARE quite racist in the Mid-west. It is sad to see two young people do something so silly. It is just plain dumb-but they don't look like the sharpest tools in the shed either. Of course racism still exists but I think that labeling this a hate (albeit petty) crime seems a bit much. Suspend them and make them volunteer for the black culture center. After all racism is just lack of knowledge...of other cultures and peoples.

March 4, 2010 at 9:30 p.m.

daboo: So much for white supremacy. I don't think inbreds qualify as supreme anything.

March 4, 2010 at 11:35 p.m.

Alex: Anyone who knows sean will tell you he is a stand up guy. He isnt racist at all and actually has multiple black friends. Oh and by the way poppy why dont you think before you categorize people by how they look or where they are from because i know sean is a whole lot smarter than your comment make you sound. Your bashing people for being racist and then saying that someone is dumb because of how they look. Makes you sound real smart.

March 5, 2010 at 2:34 a.m.

Tyrone: poppy. I'm not commenting on your thoughts about this matter. Just pointing out that cape girardeau is in southeast missouri, not southwest

March 5, 2010 at 9:55 a.m.

LisaSC: Sometimes your life takes an abrupt detour because of foolishness..In this century, if race can be tied to it..you're in for it!!! Wake up boys & girls..folks will catch you doing anything and blast it. There ain't no hidin'!!!

March 5, 2010 at 2:41 p.m.

Kandi Beaman: they need to be expelled permanently, and hopefully other schools would only take them on probationary status. pukes, both of them! shame on their parents for letting this kind of thing fester in their children!

March 5, 2010 at 10:30 p.m.

Sally: Latonya=Zachary? I think so.

March 6, 2010 at 9:18 a.m.

Wm. Fred. Moore : I think that it's way overkill to sock these guys with a felony! Unless they've demonstrated that they're guilty of worse than the cotton ball prank,give them some reorientation and let them continue to grow at M.U.

March 6, 2010 at 11:06 a.m.

J04NNY: It is sad when young people are caught in mistakes or bad choices. There are no winners only losers. Twenty or thirty years ago, a 'boys will be boys' attitude might have meant people found guilty of such a crime would be allowed to return to the student body and complete their training. Today we are closer to the other, 'zero tolerance' extreme. WHEN whomever is guilty of this crime is found out - not saying it's these guys - I hope instead of RECRIMINATION there can be RECONCILIATION. The people doing the hurt need to heal, WITH the people they hurt. Then we can all move forward together.

March 6, 2010 at 4:57 p.m.

Pam: The smirk on the one fellow's face says it all: he's very proud of his behavior and no matter how he tries to play it, he's a hater and a jerk. That he manipulated a younger student into his overtly racial slur indicates he's also a budding sociopath. Unfortunately, behavior like this is not treated as criminal - universities like to think of these as "teachable moments." I think it's a "learning moment" for the tolerant faculty that they are powerless in the face of childish racist behavior.

March 6, 2010 at 5:27 p.m.

ndrew: innocent until proven guilty only applies when the culprit or culprits are white. n u nikkers that defend these punks, u sound like the uncle tom obama that wanted to have a beer with da tom professor n da pig on the white house lawn even though the racist pig refuse to apologize. this thing is not a MO thing this is a white thing no matter where the whites are. cancerous. they do look dumb as hell. kick these woodsuckers under the bus, it would even things out a little since institutional racism have a lot of brothers under the bus.

March 6, 2010 at 10:47 p.m.

Pam: On a campus, this kind of thing is not a crime - it's just a regrettable incident. They handle campus rapes the same way. The admin holds a hearing and they tell the rapist that he shouldn't do that anymore and tell the girl to get counseling and everyone smiles and shakes hands and it's over. Don't believe me? Check out the series that NPR.org did about crimes on campus. It's an eye opener.

March 8, 2010 at 9:56 a.m.

Eviscerator: Innocent until proven guilty applies only to the courtroom and jury. If we are to assume that someone is innocent until proven guilty, then it would be impossible to charge an innocent man, because he is innocent. With that said, lets see what the outcome is in court, where there is no justice, only resolution of the conflict.

March 8, 2010 at 12:58 p.m.

Observer: I think they should be held accountable according to the law. "Pranks" "Stupid mistake" "Irresponsible" and any other words you can think of to dismiss or condone the actions of these two BOYS is also irresponsible. One is majoring in psychology and the other in political science and my thought is whoa.... They knew exactly what they were doing and they were, knowingly and willingly, contradicting their majors when they did it. IF they haven't learned about their behavior and the consequences of such from home, society and now from their majors then they aren't fit for society or college. Juveniles are punished more severely for less and they haven't learned to know better, yet. Being responsible adults is the willingness to accept responsibility for your premeditated actions as well as for your ignorance. It doesn't matter how nice someone is... Don't ever allow niceness to cloud your judgment as Dahmer was intelligent and nice and he used those positives to kill with. Perhaps some of you need to stop expecting EVERYONE to "lighten up" when trouble brews from one of your own. OBVIOUSLY, none of you knows these two as well as you like to think you do.

March 8, 2010 at 1:04 p.m.

1234abcd: These kids did something stupid. Who knows how racist they actually are. The whole point of a prank is that it is offensive and piss people off. This usually requires wit, planning and execution. But our sensitivity has removed these requirements. Now, all one has to do to accomplish the goals of a prank (to offend) is litter. Oversensitivity to racial/religious/sex based pranks encourages them. All I know is that if you send these two young litterers to prison because of WHERE they littered and WHO owned the building, they WILL become racist.

March 8, 2010 at 4:55 p.m.

KJ: Cotton balls?!?!?! Cotton balls?!?!?!? This is a hate crime?!?!?! Anyone who believes this is a hate crime is an out and out racist themselves and a complete and utter unredemable idiot! Gawd, get a life.....they're a couple of college kids playing a prank. Laugh at it, bitch about picking up cotton balls, GET OVER IT. Donks!

March 8, 2010 at 4:59 p.m.

louparte: It was a prank. People are over-reacting, especially blacks. These are two dumb college guys who embarked on a stupid college prank. The bail was way over-the-top. They didn't plant a bomb. They didn't threaten anybody with violence. It was just a stupid prank. People in hysteria over this should lighten up and get a life.

March 8, 2010 at 5:31 p.m.

ka: College students take note: Pranks are no longer considered harmless acts of youth requiring misdemeanor repercussions. If you are going to prank something, get a lawyer first. Other that being white, someone please explain the significance of the cotton balls...sorry, a little behind on symbolic racial slurs....

March 9, 2010 at 12:16 a.m.

josie wales: whites need to fight back with the blatant double standard in this country . Never do you hear or read about a black getting arrested for a " hate crime " ,,, though they commit more crimes against whites than whites against blacks . I work in a city on the east coast and the blacks here are racist towards whites ... they're very out in the open about it too . The time will come .

March 9, 2010 at 8:09 a.m.

Obamination: Where can I donate to the defense of these two boys?

March 16, 2010 at 12:30 p.m.

Chris: Wow! Just what I expected from MIZZOU! Nice boys, huh RP! Someone said good idea! Wow.. And Peg and louparte -education 101 might help! or community college - oh it is MIZZOU

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