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UNC police won’t release details on person suspected of vandalizing ‘social justice’ organization building

UPDATED

Alleged suspect wrote his name on the board

Someone allegedly vandalized the Campus Y at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill several weeks ago, leaving Confederate memorabilia and racist and anti-Semitic messages at the organizations’ coffee shop.

The suspect also allegedly stole personnel files during the January 24 incident, according to the student newspaper The Daily Tar Heel. The Campus Y is a “collaborative space that unites students, staff, faculty, and community partners in the pursuit of social justice,” according to its website.

The university police will not release details on the person suspected of the vandalism.

The suspected perpetrator is “currently undergoing medical evaluation,” Kate Maroney, a university spokesperson, told The College Fix via email on February 5. “They will be released to law enforcement officials and the two arrest warrants will be served when that is complete.”

She did not respond to a Fix follow-up question several days later asking if it is standard procedure for suspects to undergo a medical evaluation, and if the suspect had injuries.

An unsigned email from the university’s media relations team on February 10 said that there were no further updates to share about the case.

The Fix also reached out to UNC Police Security Services Supervisors Chris West, Tina Neurohr and Paul Hering for additional information twice via email within the past week. The Fix sought information about the details about the suspect, such as his or her name, race, and occupation, if the suspect is a student and if the suspect has explained the actions.

None of the officers responded, however.

MORE: Police close investigation into hate crime against lesbian school board member

A police report provided by Maroney provides few details. The police said the incident involved a non-forced entry break-in as well as “vandalism/property damage.”

The suspect allegedly entered through a basement door that “baristas and Campus Y members pointed out that a door in the basement of the Campus Y doesn’t close all the way,” according to the Tar Heel article. “Anybody, really, can get in if they know that it’s open,” a Campus Y member told the paper. “We’ve been asking for it to be fixed for a while now.”

The Fix spoke to Stephanie Berrier, a spokesperson for the university’s maintenance department, on a phone call on February 11 and she promised to look into the complaints about a broken door and get back with answers. The Fix did not receive an update on questions about maintenance requests to fix the basement door from Berrier by the end of the day Thursday.

The paper reported that the suspect had “written his name and the N-word on a whiteboard,” although the student newspaper does not print the name written on the whiteboard and the university did not tell The Fix the gender of the suspect.

People on the scene also “found swastikas drawn on floor stickers” the campus paper said.

The Fix reached out to Sarah Gladstone Smith, named in the police report as an involved person in reporting the crime, for comment. Smith works at the Campus Y.

Smith responded on Friday morning, after publication of the article.

Smith told The Fix via email:

We are not able to speak about the incident beyond the statements that we have made public as this is an ongoing investigation. The suspect did write their name on the board (and all over our building) but until former charges are made we are not at liberty to release the name and further photos of the scene/suspect’s social media.

Coffee shop employees think they are targeted because they oppose racism

Several Campus Y employees theorized that the vandalism occurred because the organization condemned white supremacy and violence at the U.S. Capitol on January 6.

The Campus Y published a statement on January 8 condemning the violence and “white supremacy.”

“What we witnessed in Washington, D.C. on January 6th, 2021, was white supremacist violence,” the statement read. “When armed insurrectionists are welcomed into our Capitol while anti-racist Black Lives Matter demonstrators were brutalized, we are confronted with the clearest and most evident display of white privilege and power.”

The Tar Heel news reporter believes the statement could have been behind the violence.

“A member of the Campus Y told the DTH that she suspects the break-in and vandalism could have been a response to the statement,” the paper said.

“This isn’t completely new to us, but it is definitely jarring,” one employee told the paper, saying that white supremacists had harassed Campus Y members previously.

“(The Campus Y) is obviously a prime suspect site for any far-right group, I mean, there’s literally a sign outside that says, ‘White silence is violence,’” an unnamed barista told the paper. The paper granted all the people it talked to anonymity. Additionally the paper “delayed publishing this story at the request of the Campus Y over fear of the safety of the organization and its members.”

The editorial board at the Tar Heel released an opinion piece expressing support for the student organization.

“Marginalized students and community members were targeted with hateful language and symbols, the safety of student leaders was threatened and the building was damaged,” the editorial board said.

“The administration must do better to mitigate the threat of white supremacy on campus, and allocate resources to student groups such as the Campus Y to protect them from targeted acts of hatred and violence,” the board wrote on January 31.

There has been no public information about the race of the suspect nor whether or not the suspect is linked to white supremacist organizations.

The Fix reached out to Campus Y’s general email address twice via email within the past week asking for further details but did not receive a response.

MORE: NC State clears employee accused of doxxing, white supremacy

Editor’s note: The article has been updated with comment from Sarah Smith.

IMAGE: Jacky Lam/Unsplash

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About the Author
College Fix contributor Ashley Carnahan is a senior at the University of California Berkeley majoring in business administration with a minor in Russian. She writes for Campus Reform. She is a member of Berkeley's Turning Point USA chapter.

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