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News >  Crime/Public Safety

‘Choose a side,’ tearful EWU president declares after student athlete targeted with racist graffiti

UPDATED: Thu., March 18, 2021

With flags at half-staff on Eastern Washington University’s campus Thursday for the eight people, including six Asian women, killed by a shooter in Atlanta Wednesday, a Black EWU student-athlete and his roommate discovered racist vandalism at their apartment.

The unidentified EWU football players found damage on one of their cars and racist graffiti on their door Thursday, said EWU Campus Police Chief Jay Day.

Eastern Washington University Interim President David May wrote a public letter with tears in his eyes after the incident, according to his statement.

May wrote that he was tired of writing that racism has no place on the campus when hateful actions, like graffiti, prove it has found a “toehold” there.

“I want to say this to everyone: Choose a side,” he wrote. “There is no middle ground.”

“Six women were not killed yesterday because someone was having a bad day or because he was a self-declared sex addict. They were killed because of who they are, Asian-Americans,” he wrote. “The latest attack in our community against one of our students is not because someone had too much to drink or because they made a mistake. This attack was on someone because they are African American, period. It was meant to dehumanize and degrade one of our own.”

Day said, as the vandalism happened off-campus, the Cheney Police Department is leading the investigation with the support of a campus police detective. Cheney police did not immediately respond to requests for an interview.

As of Thursday evening, Day was not aware of any suspects.

“Someone knows who did this,” May wrote. “That someone right now has no choice but to choose a side and that choice is right now.”

Whether police recommend charges of vandalism alone or an added hate crime charge will depend on information not yet gathered, he said.

May wrote his hurt for the targeted EWU students is underscored by larger trends and national tragedies like the deaths of George Floyd and Breonna Taylor.

“The backdrop to this message is a year of increasing violence against racial and ethnic minorities nationwide. It is a backdrop of growing normalization of white supremacy and white nationalism in our national culture,” he wrote. “It is the backdrop of years and generations of violence against black and brown people in the United States.”

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