×

UMass police investigating racist propaganda circulated on campus

  • The University of Massachusetts Amherst campus File photo



Staff Writer
Friday, November 09, 2018

AMHERST — University of Massachusetts Amherst police have launched an investigation after fliers and stickers from a white-nationalist hate group were found posted on campus on Wednesday.

The stickers and fliers were from the group Identity Evropa, according to a post on the popular Facebook page Overheard at UMass. The organization’s goal is to mainstream white nationalist ideology among college-aged men by, among other tactics, fliering on campuses, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center. The group’s Twitter page is filled with photos from cities and campuses where they have posted propaganda.

The Massachusetts Daily Collegian, the student newspaper, was the first to report on the fliers. In a statement, university spokesman Ed Blaguszewski said that campus police have been notified of the incident and are investigating. Blaguszewski added that the university denounces "these acts of hate and intimidation.”

"UMass Amherst is dedicated to the values of diversity, inclusion and equity, and it rejects anything associated with white nationalism," Ed Blaguszewski said. "This hateful organization is known for undertaking such provocative actions on college campuses across the country."

Also on Thursday, Chancellor Kumble R. Subbaswamy sent a letter out informing the campus community that a poster denouncing racism in the Melville Residence Hall had been defaced by having the N-word scrawled across it, a discovery made that day. He said that a new security camera had been installed at Melville, security had been increased and campus police are investigating the incident.

“My message to these purveyors of ignorance, intolerance and hate who hide in anonymity is that we will not be intimidated,” wrote the chancellor.

The fliers were dropped on the same day that author and historian Ibram X. Kendi, a leading scholar of racism, visited campus and delivered a lecture on how to be an antiracist at the UMass Fine Arts Center. In an interview on Thursday, Kendi said that the incident does not surprise him. These types of racist groups respond to antiracist activities with “violent and nonviolent forms of terror,” he said, in an effort to “try to terrorize us into submission.”

“I think the investigation should be very aggressive, because we’re living in a nation where these types of attacks can quickly become violent,” Kendi said, adding that denouncements, zero tolerance policies and serious investigations by colleges and universities can give a level of solace to students trying to get their education amid racist intimidation.

“I think the administration at UMass and other campuses have to take these acts, no matter the nature of them, extremely serious within this type of environment,” he said. 

Kendi urged students and supporters to continue fighting against racism.

“I think sometimes you know when you’re actually being successful when your opponents get desperate, and that desperation causes them to do these types of things,” Kendi said. 

Identity Evropa fliers were placed on vehicles in a university parking lot in March of 2017, and racist messages have been found on campus several times this semester. A study from the Anti-Defamation League released early this year found a threefold increase in the number of racist fliers, banners and stickers found on college campuses from 2016 to 2017.

Students on campus have shown up in large numbers to protest racism this semester. Hundreds marched on campus in late September after a racist threat was found in a residence hall bathroom, and on Wednesday around 50 students held a walkout against "right-wing terror," according to the Daily Collegian.

Gazette Reporter Bera Dunau contributed to this story.