MUPD investigates racially-charged graffiti message

The Legion of Black Collegians is calling for a meeting with the chancellor to address the issue.

Members of Residential Life work to remove the graffiti outside of Hatch Hall. The graffiti was discovered Saturday morning.

MU Police Department Capt. Brian Weimer said the department has begun its investigation into the offensive language painted outside Hatch Hall in graffiti Saturday. Weimer said the department is unable to provide any additional details.

“We have started an investigation to see who did it,” Weimer said.

This comes about a year after two students spread cotton balls outside of the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center and about two weeks before 850 black students from across the nation come to MU for the 2011 Big XII Conference on Black Student Government, which begins Feb. 24.

"I received a TwitPic from one of our students," Legion of Black Collegians President Lisa White said. "There has been a vandalism act on the residence hall and it had racially slurred words on there."

Around 3 a.m., a Hatch Hall coordinator received a text message carrying word that offensive language had been strewn across a sculpture outside of the residence hall. The coordinator didn't see the message until this morning and reported it at 9:15 a.m. to MUPD.

White said "the word 'nigger'" was written along with another word she could not decipher from the picture she received. LBC Political Committee chairwoman Whitney Williams said she heard from several outlets that the graffiti read "Nigger Month," but she said she is not absolutely certain.

"This is really something disheartening to our organization because this is the second time it has happened and the second consecutive year it has happened," White said. "It always seems to happen during Black History Month, which is even more unacceptable because that is a time to honor African Americans and their struggles and their leaders. This is now sometimes a time when individuals — whether they be black, white or otherwise — decide to cause attention and bring negative attention to the month some of us take so seriously."

The words have since been removed by Hatch Hall employees, and were covered by tape and paper earlier in the day. Weimer said there are surveillance cameras in the area that might have captured something involved with the case.

White said the organization has written a letter about the incident and plans to distribute it widely. She said the organization will be holding a meeting at 5:30 p.m. Wednesday in conjunction with its regular LBC meeting which she hopes Missouri Students Association President Eric Woods, Chancellor Brady Deaton and other MU administrators attend.

"We need their attention so they can understand, 'Yeah, the first time it might have just been an incident,' but the second time in two years? We just can't stand for it," White said.

LBC said MU will probably be unhappy with all of the negative press likely to surround this case, as it is attempting to increase black student enrollment. The situation is leaving many dismayed with the state of racial attitudes at MU.

"I for one can say that I don't want to parade around and talk about the unity of the University of Missouri," MU NAACP chapter President Bryan Like said in a statement. "I do not want to stand on the steps of Jesse Hall singing ‘Kumbaya’ and lighting candles for unity. I do not want to pacify this situation. What came out of the cotton ball incident besides a Columbia judicial verdict? What came out of Mizzou alum Terrence Williams having racist words written outside of his dorm room? What is the university doing to prevent these issues?"

Like met with MU students, faculty and staff members shortly following the incident.

Deaton released a statement around 1:30 p.m. Saturday and said campus administrators, MUPD and student leaders will be in discussion to determine MU's immediate and future actions in the matter.

"I speak for our university community when I say we are dismayed and deeply offended and have zero tolerance for this type of hurtful and destructive behavior," Deaton said.

Residential Life Director Frankie Minor, Hatch Hall coordinator Patrick Patterson and area coordinator Maya Hernandez were unable to answer questions on the matter, and instead referred The Maneater to the MU News Bureau and MUPD.

"I ask that we come together as a Mizzou family to deplore this action and to celebrate the diversity of our community as one of MU's greatest strengths," Deaton said.

Students responded to Deaton's words, banding together in front of Hatch Hall around 4:30 p.m. to preach unity.

"It's just to leave the hate behind and show we need to unite," senior Kirsten Duncan said.

Although the graffiti was removed at around 12:30 p.m., MUPD encourages anyone with information to contact its office at (573) 882-7201 or CrimeStoppers at (573) 875-8477.

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