EMU backs student protest of racist graffiti

Associated Press

Ypsilanti — The president of Eastern Michigan University says he strongly supports students’ rights to peacefully demonstrate about issues that are important to them.

Some students marched onto the field after Eastern Michigan’s 27-24 victory over Wyoming on Friday night to protest racist graffiti that was found on campus earlier in the week.

In a statement Saturday, President James Smith said the school has “great respect” for students engaged in “constructive efforts” to bring attention to issues at the Ypsilanti school.

The national anthem was played early while the teams were off the field, with the university citing safety and security concerns.

Students sat peacefully and talked to Smith during the game. They moved outside the end zone area in the closing moments before walking onto the field chanting, “No justice! No peace!”

Eastern Michigan coach Chris Creighton said the protesters didn’t seem “aggressive” but were just “inching closer” near the end of the game. He spoke with the referees, and they told him they trusted security to handle the crowd.

Creighton and the Eagles walked onto the field linking arms Friday after meeting Thursday night to discuss “the things that are going on in our country and on our campus.

“And it was a very positive, very deep, very meaningful, respect-filled conversation among our team,” he said. “I was super proud of the dialogue we had.”

The graffiti was found Tuesday and included the letters “KKK” and a racial epithet. Another racial slur was found Wednesday.

Eastern Michigan says it is trying to identify those responsible and will prosecute them to the fullest extent of the law.