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Racist graffiti sparks protest on EMU's campus as police look for suspects

Sep 22, 2016

Two incidents of racist graffiti found on Eastern Michigan University’s campus in Ypsilanti have sparked protests and dialogue between students and faculty.

The first racial slur was found spray painted on a wall outside King Hall this past Tuesday:

The graffiti was removed and that night protesters marched on campus and to the EMU president’s house to demand action.

Twitter user @AlonzoDReed posted this video of the march and protest:

More on the protest from Shayler Barnes Jr. of the Eastern Echo:

The assembly of students continued on to march through President Smith’s front gate. The students rallied and congregated peacefully in the front of his home for an hour. Following the hour wait the students were met by EMU President James Smith, EMU Assistant Vice President of Student Affairs Chiara Hensley and EMU Associate Vice President of Student Affairs Calvin Phillips. The group had just left an administrative meeting discussing potential resolutions and some were shared with the students.

The following day, another piece of graffiti was found inside a dormitory:

In a statement released yesterday, EMU president James Smith said the graffiti was discovered during their investigation into the first incident:

As part of the investigation, EMU personnel have been inspecting other campus facilities to make sure no other graffiti of this nature is present. During that process, early this morning, a racial slur was found on a wall in a stairwell of Wise Hall and was also removed.

Smith says there will be increased police presence on the campus and that “the full resources of the university” will be used to find the person or people responsible.

They are offering a $2,500 reward to anyone with information regarding the incidents, and are encouraging people to call police or to use this anonymous online feedback form.

Smith said they also plan to hold a community forum “no later than early October” to discuss the issues raised in reaction to the incidents.

In a statement directed toward students and staff on EMU’s campus, members of the Black Student Union and the student government reacted to the incidents:

In distressing times such as this, it is imperative that the student body, faculty, staff, and administration coalesce together in a show of solidarity. Despite the strife we may encounter, we will remain resilient and overcome vitriolic acts of prejudice. The utilization of fear-inducing mechanisms such as those displayed today will not deter the members of Black Student Union from exhibiting our pride in the mission, values, and overarching purpose of our organization to bring about unity to the entire campus.

Today, the University Christian Fellowship held a "Unity Rally" in reaction to the events on campus.