UPDATE: In an email to students Thursday afternoon, Vice Chancellor for Operations Gary Ward, Interim Vice Chancellor for Inclusion, Diversity and Equity Chuck Henson and Interim Chancellor Hank Foley released a statement regarding the incident:
“Last night, a vandal spray-painted over a portion of the MU Gaines-Oldham Black Culture Center (GOBCC) building’s sign,” they wrote. “No students or staff were present in the building at the time. Police and security officers were focused on protecting the students, who marched from the GOBCC to the Student Center earlier in the evening. MU Police Department investigators are reviewing video surveillance from the area as part of the investigation.
This act is not acceptable. Police will be present at GOBCC while also supporting and protecting our students wherever they gather.”
Just two days after the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center received a phone call threat, the center’s sign was vandalized on Nov. 12. The word “black” on the sign was blocked out with what appeared to be black spray paint.
The vandalism was found around 1 a.m. MU Police Department arrived at the center shortly after.
Freshman Isaac Jahns, who lives in Hatch Residence Hall, said he heard a conversation that may have been related while walking home from a dining hall with friends.
“We were walking back from Rollins Late Night and as we turned the corner, we heard someone yell, ‘Black motherfuckers, you’re not welcome here,’” Jahns said. “I looked back, and there was a girl (by the GOBCC) with a red jacket on and she booked it. She was sprinting. So we booked it too, went back (to Hatch) and I tried calling MUPD twice … We were like, ‘It’s gotta be the same guy. It has to be.’”
Jahns said he did not see the male suspect and that he thought the female, whom he believed the insults were directed to, was black.
“I tried calling MUPD and they would not pick up their phones,” Jahns said.
The incident occurred just before 1 a.m. At the time, he hadn’t seen the vandalism on the sign, but he came back to the BCC after seeing on Twitter that the sign had been vandalized.
The Legion of Black Collegians published a statement via Twitter at 1:37 a.m.
The "Black" has been eliminated in "Black Culture Center". We're not afraid. You clearly are. Stay strong Mizzou. pic.twitter.com/Z45Wt3Ydx9— LBC (@MizzouLBC) November 12, 2015
This wasn’t the first time the BCC was vandalized. In 2010, two students scattered cotton balls on the center’s lawn. While no cameras were installed on the building at that time, they have since been installed, according to a 2012 Columbia Tribune article.
Several students posted about the vandalism on social media.
PEOPLE DONT EVEN KNOW WHAT THE BCC MEAN TO US, HOW DARE SOMEONE!— Ms. Stone. (@QUIT_fLEXinn) November 12, 2015
The BCC focuses on the needs of black students, but is open for ALL students.— Antoinette (@iLoveAntoinette) November 12, 2015
It's upsetting my family & I because it's like if we can't feel safe at the BCC, where the HELL can we feel safe? pic.twitter.com/D1m0uPj5U6— ConcernedStudent1950 (@blackalvin3) November 12, 2015
THIS MAKES ME SO MAD where the hell is MUPD?! Didn't they put cameras on the BCC after the cotton balls?! https://t.co/IrY2NekjhA— penny proud (@CHEL_seeyaa) November 12, 2015
MUPD released a statement Thursday morning, in which he said police were investigating the incident, and that video surveillance from the area was being reviewed.
"Safety and security of our students is our top priority, and we are investigating all crimes as they are reported to us," MUPD Chief Doug Schwandt said in the statement. "We are receiving assistance from the Missouri State Highway Patrol and will continue to have an increased security presence on campus for the foreseeable future."
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