April 11, 1995 in Nation/World

Gu Looks For Source Of Hate Mail New Letters Threaten Black Students

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Gonzaga University beefed up campus security Monday after four black law students received more racist hate mail over the weekend.

Hand-delivered letters warned the first-year law students that “none of you lazy niggers will be graduating from this law school.”

The second letter in as many weeks from “Law Students for a Pure America” told the black students to leave the school before they are forced out, or became “martyrs.”

University officials responded Monday with a string of private meetings and undisclosed security changes.

The Rev. Bernard Coughlin, president of GU, also sent a brief memo to all staff and students, telling them the university is working with police to catch the perpetrators.

“Please join me in praying for a speedy resolution to these acts of racial harassment.”

Spokane police and the FBI obtained copies of the latest hate letter, dropped into student folders in the main foyer of the law school on Sunday.

The FBI is investigating the racial letters as violations of federal civil rights laws.

The letters frighten many students, said one minority undergraduate who asked not to be identified. “Whenever a minority reads this letter they get scared.”

Sunday’s letter included commentary on last Tuesday’s student rally condemning the hate mail, and the growing reward for catching the author.

The letter also included an announcement: ” a Pure Law School … Help the niggers relocate. Reward for any participation in helping relocate these niggers … A $1,000 reward and no questions asked.”

Both letters were personal and threatening to the four black students. Sunday’s letter referred to one black student’s child and continued:

“We know where you live. We have your schedules. We have watched all of you outside of school … Now do not make the mistake of thinking this is just a hoax or we only want to intimidate you jerks. We are giving all of you a chance to leave on your own.”

The letters are apparently designed to appear like the work of an angry first-year law student. There are 201 students in the class.

Sunday’s letter came just a week after the initial threat. That letter was addressed to Aryan Nations Leader Richard Butler. It asked his help in “cleaning up” the law school, and getting rid of minorities by next year.

Butler was at the law school March 27 for a speech by Floyd Cochran, former Aryan Nations political director, who now renounces white supremacy.

Most university students were unaware Monday of the second threatening letter, but some still wore ribbons showing their support for the targeted students.

One white law student mentioned the timing was particularly cruel considering the students were less than a month from grueling final examinations.

“It’s such a stressful time,” she said, asking not to be identified. “To go through something like this on top of all the pressure is just outrageous.”

She said many students were shaken by the threats, and noted one professor almost broke down discussing it with his class.

Both hate letters have been studied by the Spokane police and the FBI. Jeff John, supervisor of the Eastern Washington FBI office, said the agency’s headquarters is comparing the letters with hate mail in other parts of the country.

John said he has no information about the so-called Law Students for a Pure America.

“The letter writer has made it appear that this is a fellow first-year student, or students perpetrating this threat,” said Dale Goodwin, GU spokesman. “That’s the only real concrete thing we have to go on at this point.”

Goodwin said there will be no rallies on campus this week, so as to avoid giving the perpetrators more attention.

He said the racial threats were the most severe he could recall in his 13 years at the university. “I can’t remember a case in that time that involved such explicit references to threats as this latest letter did.”


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