Racist graffiti sparks outrage at EMU

Kim Kozlowski
The Detroit News

Jordan Walker and some of his fraternity brothers were emailing Tuesday about the police shooting of an unarmed black man in Tulsa, Oklahoma, when one of the fraternity brothers sent a picture of a racial incident closer to home.

The picture showed the letters KKK painted in red, white and blue on the side of a campus building at Eastern Michigan University. Underneath were the words “Leave N****RS.”

Walker, who graduated with a political science degree from EMU in the spring, said he couldn’t believe the graffiti.

“They’re telling black people to leave. Where do we go?” said Walker, who still lives in Ypsilanti and is a field director for the re-election campaign of Detroit City Councilwoman Janee Ayers. “We’re here to get an education, to better ourselves. It’s terrible people feel that way.”

EMU has denounced the racist graffiti, which appeared on the courtyard side of King Hall, a building that houses the student newspaper, the public broadcasting radio station and some faculty offices.

“The University strongly condemns such a racist and thoughtless act, which runs completely counter to the values and welcoming environment of our highly diverse Eastern Michigan University community,” President James Smith said in a statement to the campus.

“Our Department of Public Safety is undertaking a full and immediate investigation, and the graffiti has been quickly removed. We are hopeful that security cameras in the nearby area will help provide evidence pointing to who may have perpetrated this action. We also are seeking any information from individuals who may have spotted anything unusual in the overnight or early morning hours in that area.

“Rest assured, we will investigate this criminal act to our fullest abilities and will advise our campus community on our progress. Let me reiterate, we condemn this act in the strongest of terms and stand strong in our determination to identify the individual or individuals responsible, and then beyond this to address the broader issues in our community that such an action highlights.”

Anyone with information about the incident is asked to contact the EMU Department of Public Safety at 734-487-1222.