Five months after students at American University (AU) found bananas hanging from nooses on campus, posters decorated with Confederate flags and cotton stalks surfaced at the school Tuesday, AU's student newspaper the Eagle reports.
At least ten of the posters cropped up in campus classrooms and hallways on the same night the school launched an anti-racism research center. The posters of the Stars and Bars featured two slogans: "Huzzah for Dixie" and "I wish I was in the land of cotton," a lyric from the Confederate anthem "Dixie." Some also featured a stalk of cotton that had been thumbtacked to the boards.
The displays were found in at least four campus buildings and appeared to target programs that were linked to the new anti-racism center, like the one found outside the Center for Diversity and Inclusion, the New York Times reports. According to the Eagle, several students reported the posters to public safety officers after finding them across campus Tuesday night, within hours of an event introducing professor Ibram Kendi's new Antiracist Research and Policy Center.
"AU is committed to the vision of the Center and Dr. Kendi's work," the vice president of campus life, Fanta Aw, wrote in a statement. "We will not be deterred by this cowardly attempt at intimidation." She added that the university is investigating what went down.
Public safety officials at AU issued two videos of the suspected perpetrator, whom they believe is a 40-year-old white guy wearing construction gear, rather than a student, according to a crime bulletin. They're currently asking the public to help identify him.
It's not clear if the FBI will step in to investigate the poster incident as a hate crime, as it did after the hanging of the nooses and bananas back in May. AU's home town of Washington, DC, saw the number of reported hate crimes rise by 62 percent over the past year, and the university is just one of many across the country that's seen a newfound push against diversity. White nationalist groups, like Identity Evropa, have even been bold enough to leave stickers and flyers around 129 college campuses in 36 states this year in a push to recruit college kids.
On Tuesday, Dr. Kendi tweeted a message of support to AU's student body, calling out students of color and Jewish students "who may be feeling another rush of fear from tonight's posters."
"This is the latest attempt to frighten our community, as groups are trying to frighten other communities around the country," Kendi wrote. "If they can't keep you down by discrimination, then they have attempted to keep you down by terror, by instilling fear in you... Do not let these terrorists slow you down, fear you down."
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