Racism struck again at Gonzaga University on Tuesday in an ongoing case of harassment of black law students.
Second-year law student Coleen Stoudmire discovered hate messages scrawled on the door and window of her apartment and on the sidewalk out front.
It is the fourth time since April 1995 that Stoudmire has been the target of racial attacks at GU, but the first involving graffiti.
Stoudmire and other black law students have received hate mail at school and at home.
In those letters, the students have been called racist names and have been threatened with being driven from Gonzaga in some kind of campaign to scour blacks from the campus. No other minority groups have been targeted.
The harassment is working to some degree.
At least two of the black students are considering transfers to other law schools. Two others left after the 1995 incidents.
All of the racial episodes have come just before final exams. Stoudmire’s first final is Friday.
“I’d like to ring somebody’s neck,” Stoudmire said as Spokane police checked for fingerprints on her defaced apartment window not far from the law school. She said she is more angry than scared.
A racial epithet was scrawled on the window and the door.
A second message, “One down, two to go,” was left on the door.
That was an apparent reference to the recent departure of black law student Richard Samad, who transferred to Gonzaga last fall from Brigham Young University.
GU officials said Samad recently finished classes and left Spokane under an arrangement with the law school in which he is taking final exams off campus, an unusual step to allow Samad to get away from the problems.
“I don’t understand why this is still happening,” said incoming student body president Jace Wilde.
Top university officials met with Spokane police and FBI agents Tuesday to talk about progress of the investigation, which is now 13 months old.
The university recently offered a $25,000 reward for information leading to an arrest in the case, and Secret Witness is offering another $1,000, but no suspects have yet been identified, said Dale Goodwin, university spokesman.
The incidents are forcing university officials to re-examine treatment of race issues on campus.
“What more can we do to put an end to this?” Goodwin asked.
Gonzaga officials said they are frustrated they’ve been unable to stop racist incidents.
The perpetrator or perpetrators apparently have close knowledge of the activities of GU’s black law students, which suggests the messenger has ties with the second-year class, Goodwin said.
The suspect knew of Samad’s leaving school last week and another student’s scholarship.
Tuesday’s graffiti isn’t the only incident of racial harassment at GU in recent days.
Black law student Uri Clinton, also in his second year, received racist messages on his telephone answering system Thursday night and again on Sunday, Goodwin said.
In one of the messages, the male caller threatened, “I’ll get all of you,” according to Goodwin.
A black law professor, who is leaving at the end of the current term after two years at Gonzaga, also has been harassed, along with an undergraduate black student.
Racial harassment is a felony crime under state law and a federal civil rights violation.
Stoudmire said she was awake early Tuesday studying for finals, and stepped out her front door to smoke a cigarette about 3 a.m. She said she did not notice the graffiti then, but discovered it later about 7 a.m.
“This is what they did last year. They waited until we got to finals,” said Stoudmire, a Florida native.
“I wish people would let me get to studying and leave me alone. I just want to get through finals.”
Goodwin shares her frustration. “It’s got to be absolutely, excruciatingly tough,” he said.
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MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: RACIST ACTS Reported racial-harassment incidents at Gonzaga University over the past 13 months: April 1, 1995 - Four black first-year law students receive racist letters in law school mail folders. April 9, 1995 - Same students receive second threatening letter. March 22, 1996 - Two black law students receive racist letters at their apartments. Undergraduate black student receives racist telephone message. March 23, 1996 - Same undergraduate student finds racist message scratched into his car parked near his dormitory. April 30, 1996 - Second-year black law student Coleen Stoudmire finds racist graffiti on her apartment door and window.
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