Roughly a year after racist graffiti at Eastern Michigan University triggered campus protests and an FBI investigation, law enforcement has charged a black former EMU student with malicious destruction of property, identity theft, and using computers to commit a crime.
Twenty-nine year-old Eddie Curlin, who attended EMU from 2014 through early 2016 and is currently serving time for receiving stolen property, was arraigned on the EMU charges today, according to The Detroit News.
In September of last year, Curlin allegedly had scrawled “KKK” with the phrase “Leave NI**ERS” under it in the courtyard of EMU’s King Hall, and a month later followed it up with the same phrase on a wall at Ford Hall. He also is implicated in a racist message found in a bathroom at Sherzer Hall last spring.
The September incident resulted in a 100 person-strong protest by Black Lives Matter, and a $10,000 reward was offered for information about the epithets in each of the cases. It also led to university president Jim Smith stating the usual:
There is no place on our campus for these kinds of hateful actions and I am deeply angry and saddened that it occurred. […] Our police officers continue to investigate the incidents in late September. They have responded to many tips and continue to actively pursue them. …
The deeper and systemic issues that are behind these incidents continue to be a focus for our student leaders, our faculty, our administration and all who care about this institution and the welfare of our students. […] These incidents run counter to the values and mission of the University and our actions over the past several weeks and going forth have and will continue to reflect that.
The question is, will Smith now address the “deeper and systemic issues” which lead some people to exacerbate racial ill will? Or, will we hear (if anything at all) that, despite the race of the suspect, Curlin’s actions “merely remind us of all the work we still have to do” in the realm of race relations?
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