89.1 WEMU

Washtenaw County Government Offers Support to EMU In Wake Of Racial Graffiti Incidents

Sep 22, 2016

Washtenaw County Seal
Credit Washtenaw County / ewashtenaw.org

The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners is condemning incidents of racism on the Eastern Michigan University campus and offering public support for the University. 


The board, Wednesday night, passed a resolution joining with the university and its administration in condemnation of acts of racism, racial discrimination, and racial intimidation.  The resolution also applauds EMU for its quick action to address the incidents of racist graffiti and for its ongoing commitment to the safety of the campus community. The resolution reads, as follows: 

A RESOLUTION ADDRESSING RECENT INCIDENTS AT EASTERN MICHIGAN UNIVERSITY AND SUPPORT FOR THEIR OPEN AND INCLUSIVE CAMPUS

WASHTENAW COUNTY BOARD OF COMMISSIONERS

September 21, 2016

WHEREAS Racism, racial discrimination, and racial intimidation are to be opposed for the offense they pose to the dignity, safety, moral decency, and benefit of all individuals and society as a whole; and

WHEREAS Washtenaw County strongly opposes racial discrimination in any and all aspects at all times; and  

WHEREAS Racist, derogatory and abhorrent graffiti and statements, including the letters “KKK” were discovered on the campus of Eastern Michigan University on September 20, 2016; and

WHEREAS these statements were certain to have been specifically designed to offend and intimidate Eastern Michigan University’s African American students and faculty and the broader African American community in the Ypsilanti area and Washtenaw County; and

WHEREAS these abhorrent statements offend also the safety, sensibility, and moral decency of the entire community; and

WHEREAS Eastern Michigan University is a remarkable educational institution actively open and accessible to all people; and

WHEREAS Eastern Michigan University actively works to ensure a physically safe campus and community designed to promote the education, development, and benefit of all its students and faculty; and

WHEREAS University President James Smith issued a statement to the EMU community that provided, in part, that EMU condemns the 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.”; and

NOW THEREFORE BE IT RESOLVED The Washtenaw County Board of Commissioners joins Eastern Michigan University in formally condemning the racist actions discovered on its campus on September 20, 2016; and  

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED That Washtenaw County reaffirms its support for Eastern Michigan University for both their swift and clear denunciation of such hateful acts and their continued longstanding commitment and practice of ensuring the safety and welfare of their students and faculty along with the broader community.

Early Tuesday morning, a spray painting was discovered on an outside wall of King Hall.  It contained a racial epithet and a reference to the “KKK.”  Since then, another racially offensive statement was found painted in one of the stairwells of Wise Hall.

The investigation into the incidents continue.  EMU President James Smith says the university is aggressively investigating to find the culprits and is asking the public’s help to bring the case to resolution. 

Eastern Michigan University is offering a $2,500 dollar reward for information that leads to an arrest and conviction. 

After the graffiti was found at King Hall early Tuesday morning, it led to a day of protests and marches, culminating with chanting crowds outside the EMU administration building, and later at the President's house.  Students are demanding action to increase safety on campus and bring about a future absent of racism at EMU. 

University administrators are planning a campus forum in early October to listen to complaints, concerns, and requests for changes on campus to help bring about such a future. 

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— David Fair is the WEMU News Director and host of Morning Edition on WEMU.  You can contact David at 734.487.3363, on twitter @DavidFairWEMU, or email him at dfair@emich.edu