A former EMU student was arraigned Monday morning in the Washtenaw County District Court for the racial graffiti incidents on campus during the Fall 2016 semester.
Eddie Curlin, 29, who was already in jail for unrelated charges, was arraigned on three counts of malicious destruction of property, four counts of identity theft and one count of using computers to commit a crime stemming from vandalism incidents.
According to EMU’s Chief of Police Robert Heighes, Curlin acted singlehandedly.
“It was totally self-serving, it was not driven by politics and it was not driven by race. It was an individual item done by one individual for all three major graffiti incidents on our campus,” said Heighes.
According to a news release, the charges stem from incidents that took place in September 2016 at King Hall, in which a hate message was found spray painted on an exterior wall; an October 2016 incident in which a racist message was discovered spray painted on an exterior wall of Ford Hall and a third incident that took place last spring in which a racist message was found in a men’s restroom stall in Sherzer Hall.
Curlin, an African-American male, was an EMU student in 2014 through spring of 2016. He is currently serving one to five years at Michigan Department of Corrections for stolen property. According to Heighes, he was not involved in any criminal activity at EMU during his time as a student.
“The incidents of vandalism on our campus created significant pain, fear and distress among our students, faculty and staff. I joined with many of our community in my own personal anger over these incidents,” said President James Smith in the news release.
“The many initiatives put in place as a result of the incidents are vitally important and will continue regardless of the outcome of the criminal proceedings. As one of the most diverse higher education institutions in Michigan, Eastern’s commitment to inclusiveness and being a welcoming community for people of all backgrounds is an ongoing priority,” Smith said.
EMU’s Department of Public Safety spent over 1,000 hours investigating the graffiti incidents over the course of last year along with the help from FBI and the Michigan State Police. According to Heighes, Curlin’s arraignment was based on over 60 interviews, 20 search warrants, surveillance video and forensic evidence.
Nobody received the $10,000 reward EMU was offering for information on the graffiti incidents.
Jaiquae Rodwell, an EMU student, is disappointed the racial graffiti stemmed from an African-American. “As a black student, to know that another black person is using the N-word in a negative way is embarrassing,” Rodwell said.
“To know that it was a person of color is hurtful,” he said.
Curlin is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Nov. 9.