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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Cotton strewn in front of Black Culture Center

MUPD will classify the act as vandalism until the investigation progresses.

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Students walk by cotton balls strewn on the sidewalk Friday outside of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture. The cotton was believed to be placed in front of the building around 2 a.m. Friday morning.

Katie Currid/Senior Staff Photographer

Students found balls of cotton strewn Friday morning in front of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.

MU Police Department Capt. Brian Weimer said the incident, classified as vandalism until the investigation proves otherwise, occurred between 12:30 a.m. and 2 a.m. Friday.

MUPD had no new details to report Saturday since a previous interview Friday afternoon, Weimer said.

“Unfortunately, we can’t predict when more information will become available,” Weimer said. “It’s an investigation.”

Weimer said it is possible the incident might be classified as a hate crime and MUPD needs more information to decide whether it was racially motivated.

Although freshman Portia King worked Friday morning at the center, she heard about the incident, which occurred on the 48th anniversary of the Supreme Court’s decision to desegregate public transportation, before she arrived there.

“First, I received a picture message, and I didn’t know what it was,” King said. “I overheard people I was passing (walking to work), 'I’ll tweet it,' or ‘Yeah, there’s cotton outside of the Black Culture Center.’ ”

A witness reported two people in dark clothing running from the area sometime Friday morning, according to an MUPD news release.

Although MUPD does not know the reasoning behind the act, Weimer said one could infer contextually why the vandals chose cotton.

King said when King arrived at work, she was angered by what she saw.

“That’s just so oppressing and so degrading in so many ways,” King said. “It’s so stereotypical as well.”

Chancellor Brady Deaton issued a statement on the issue through the MU News Bureau and university e-mail accounts.

“This university is fully committed to tolerance and respect for every one of its members, and this kind of conduct will not be tolerated at MU,” Deaton said in the statement.

King said though much progress has been made since the civil rights movement in the '60s, a subtle form of racism on campus still exists.

“Nowadays, it’s indirect,” King said. “You see it in the way people talk to you or speak to you. You can tell when someone judges you, basically.”

Biology professor David Setzer said the act might have been intended as a joke but was in bad taste.

“I think it would take a profound level of ignorance of American history to perceive that as a joke,” Setzer said.

King said opression might go unnoticed in today’s society.

“You have to be oppressed to know it,” King said.

In his statement, Deaton’s said the sort of conduct demonstrated by the incident will not be tolerated at the university.

“MU celebrates diversity of our community, and this behavior offends us all,” Deaton said in the statement.

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Article comments

Feb. 28, 2010 at 4:09 p.m.

Joanne Lewis: To the black students of MU. Do not let this incident affect you in any way. Always keep your head held high and show the World you are important.

Feb. 28, 2010 at 7:05 p.m.

Mike Valadez: As Student at Mizzou, I am completely embarrassed by this event,and offended by this BLATANT hate crime. I hope those who committed this act are promptly expelled from our community. Besides the hate expressed, I think the worst aspect of this is the fact that every campus tour (and there were many that day) passes past the BCC. This was disgusting, embarrassing, and offending to all members of our great University. I sincerely hope the University takes extreme measures against this act, and remains committed to the diversity of our campus, as this is proof that racism is not "dead".

March 1, 2010 at 11:45 a.m.

Sarah: Sadly, this happened on the Univ. of Tenn.'s campus last fall. The incident received little to no attention, besides student's passing the information along via word-of-mouth. Appears that this type of underhanded prejudice is not isolated to East Tennessee. I hope UM's administration finds a constructive way to address this situation.

March 1, 2010 at 1:11 p.m.

jose luis reynoso, jr: It clearly shows that SAT, ACT scores and GPA's mean nothing when Christian values are non-existent. Come on..let's have UC Davis lead the way and require ehtics,theology, values and/or cultural sensitivity courses each semester for all students including graduate students. Emotional intelligence means alot more than IQ in the USA if we are to survive. Come on UC Davis...make real leaders!

March 1, 2010 at 9:41 p.m.

Epic Beard Man: It was self defense!

March 2, 2010 at 1:46 p.m.

Action Packed Pants: if history wasn't taught in schools racists like this couldn't make such educated jokes!

March 2, 2010 at 3:20 p.m.

Christyn Scarborough: I live in Los Angeles, and people give me crap for being from the Midwest. I'm proud of where I'm from, and it takes a LOT to make me embarrassed of the Midwest. This does it. And as an African American, this makes my blood boil. And Epic Beard Man: You're a jerk. I hope birds crap on your head. Or something equally unpleasant.

March 3, 2010 at 3:33 a.m.

Brandon: Guys, come on. Look, I'm not condoning this, but this is far from the worst of the worst of hate crimes. I mean, it's not like someone wrote the n-word on the BCC building, for christ sake. And most importantly, NO ONE GOT HURT or attacked. You could just get rid of the cotton balls instead of letting them sit there, and the problem would be solved! Furthermore, who is hurt by this? Some overly sensitive liberal black students who have this really weird illusion that racism is somehow DEAD in 2010, esp. cuz we "elected a black president"? Face reality! It's a sad truth that there will ALWAYS be racists. I wish there were none, but that's just not gonna happen. We can never stamp out prejudice 100%. Just go about your lives and quit worrying so much about this. If this wasn't even talked about, probably half the people at that recent BCC town hall would never have known it happened. And there'd be no reason for an uproar. So there's 1 or 2 idiots on campus who are bigots and joked around with cotton. big whoop. If they were serious racists, they would've gone much farther than this, believe me.

March 3, 2010 at 12:06 p.m.

L'Darius: @Brandon: Obviously you are not Black. If you were, you would understand that as a Black man you don't need to be "overly sensitive" or "liberal" to be offended by this egregious affront to our race and culture. Unfortunately, we have been "facing reality" for a long time, since slavery actually, and of course we aren't so naive to think that racism doesn't exist because of a new president. Unless you experience racism, you have no right to make an inflammatory and ignorant post like that, and you definitely have no right to dictate to us how we as a community should respond to such an issue.

March 5, 2010 at 8:53 a.m.

Michael: @Brandon Spreading cotton on the the Black Cultural Center serves to tell an entire campus of black students that they don't belong at MU, that they belong picking cotton. Worse, the message was delivered in an area that should serve as a safe space for them on campus. How you can not see that as akin to writing slurs with spray paint is beyond me. It's an act intended to terrorize and belittle black students and certainly gives them cause to fear certain further acts of hatred, including violence, against them, especially as perpetrators are defended by people who think it's just a silly joke. It's not a silly joke. It's a hate crime.

March 8, 2010 at 7:43 p.m.

steve: I blame Bush

March 9, 2010 at 8:06 p.m.

Not a Hate Crime: @Brandon and Michael Brandon you are correct in stating the fact that this is in no regard a big hate crime. It is merely ignorance as a part of our culture. These kids were wrong to do such a thing and should be suspended and charged with littering, not expelled or charged with a hate crime. Michael. You are obviously taking this whole story out of context. As a student at the University of Missouri and a student who has taken courses in sociology and peace studies you are wrong about your comment of (Unless you experience racism, you have no right to make an inflammatory and ignorant post like that). Racism is not only prevelant with blacks which is a huge misconception in the eyes of many. It has to do with ism's and social status.

March 11, 2010 at 9:41 p.m.

Pooper: Did anything happen at the White Cultural Center? I mean, there is one on that campaus, right? I mean if the place celebrates diversity then there should be a White Cultural Center right next to the Black Cultural Center.

Sept. 14, 2010 at 1:24 p.m.

Two-way-street: Quit the crybaby stuff. All of you whiners who call this a hate crime are just too stupid to survive if government doesn't feed, clothe and house you. I am curious if the White Cultural Center is equal in grandeur.

Aug. 1, 2012 at 5:10 p.m.

maryshap: Oooh, someone left cotton balls, scary. That's about the LAMEST, weakest, non damaging act of vandalism. Hell, it's not even vandalism, it's LITTERING. I would venture to guess the same people freaking out about a few cotton balls on the ground call each other "nigga" all the time and listen to misogynist rap, and have watched a god-awful Tyler perry movie or two. Big Deal, grow up. What a nation of sissies! 'Sticks and stones' people. Quit being so ridiculously over sensitive. Had someone had the resolve to pick them up and put them in the trash, it would have deriled whatever 'effort' was used to dismay you. Up next: "Students cry crocodile tears at an Aunt Jemima Commercial"

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