State investigators enter Miami racial case

Saturday, November 14, 1998

The Cincinnati Enquirer

OXFORD - Evidence from an Oct. 30 racial incident at Miami University's black cultural center will be analyzed by the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation and Identification.

University spokeswoman Holly Wissing said she doesn't know how long it will take to complete the tests.

"Obviously, rapes and murders will take priority over a criminal-mischief case," she said Friday.

She declined to reveal specifically what items were sent to investigators at the state's crime lab in London, near Columbus, saying that could jeopardize a possible case. The evidence will be forwarded to the Butler County prosecutor.

About 8 p.m. Oct. 30, a staff member entered the Center for Black Culture and Learning on campus and found several photocopied fliers containing racist and anti-homosexual messages in text and graphic form. Screen savers were changed on four computers in the computer lab to include racist messages, according to Miami's Department of Public Safety.

The building was locked and there was no sign of forced entry, officials said.

"Our foremost efforts are being directed to the investigation and to finding the perpetrator(s), but also (we) realize this is an unsettling and disturbing event for our entire community," university officials said in a statement distributed on campus this week.

Miami police are treating the incident as criminal mischief, a misdemeanor, because it doesn't qualify as vandalism. That requires at least $500 in damage, and no damage was done in this case, Ms. Wissing said.

The incident has provoked other incidents on campus. On Tuesday, about 100 students took to the streets and blocked traffic along Patterson Avenue.

Seven students were arrested Wednesday near Shriver Center, which includes the student union complex, on disorderly conduct charges. Police said that students tried to block traffic and repeat Tuesday's on-the-street demonstration.

University officials said Tuesday's demonstration reflected anger and frustration over the Oct. 30 incident.

"Like so many on this campus, we strongly condemn the incident," they wrote. "Whatever the motivations of the person or persons who did this, that should not and will not deter us from the progress we have made as a university community."

President James Garland will meet with black student leaders again next week to discuss the campus racial climate.

Miami protests supported
Miami president tells campus he's shocked

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