Eastern Michigan University students react to arraignment of racial graffiti suspect

Curlin at his probable cause conference, Nov. 11. The preliminary hearing is scheduled for Thursday, Nov. 30 at the 14a-1 District Court in Ann Arbor.

It has been over a year since Eastern Michigan University found unsettling vandalism on campus. Ever since its discovery, it has struck countless discussions rising the political climate among students.

The graffiti attack was found on campus, where the words “KKK leave N------” were spray painted along the side of King Hall. 

On Monday, Oct. 23, 29 year-old Eddie Curlin was arraigned in Washtenaw County for the racist graffiti incident that shocked EMU during the fall 2016 semester.

Curlin is an African-American man and a former EMU student, causing shock and disappointment on campus especially for African-American students. EMU’s Chief of Police Robert Heighes told The Eastern Echo Curlin’s actions were not politically motivated, striking confusion across campus.

Treasurer of the Black Student Union Lonique Clinkscales was a second-year student at EMU when the racist graffiti took place and feels wounded after learning Curlin is African-American.

“I absolutely could not believe that a man of color could create such hate toward his own people,” Clinkscales said. 

“I would have rather it been a hateful white person because that’s who we are continuously oppressed by, than our own people.”

Clinkscales said the BSU eboard held a meeting the same day where they talked about the arraignment of Curlin and verbalized their thoughts on the news. 

Third-year EMU student, Latrice Sample, was present during the BSU meetings following the arraignment of Curlin. She felt it was easy for them to pin the blame on him because he went to EMU and already had a criminal record.

According to EMU’s news page, Curlin was already in custody serving a one-to-five year sentence on an unrelated charge and has more criminal record history to his name.

“I think it’s bulls---,” third-year EMU student Bethany Conway said. “I think Eastern is lying and isn’t trying hard enough to find who really did it.”

According to the American Civil Liberties Union’s Racial Disparities in Sentencing submission to the inter-American Commission on Human Rights, Black and Latino offenders sentenced in state and federal courts face significantly greater odds of incarceration than similarly situated white offenders and receive longer sentences than their white counterparts in some jurisdictions.

Third-year student Emilio Johnson Jr. is aware of these injustices, being a criminology major at EMU.

“I honestly was in disbelief and wondered why a black man would do that to his own school,” Johnson said. 

“I learn about how black men tend to get worse sentences than anyone else so hearing about it just made me disappointed.”

In the early fall 2017 semester, the BSU held a memorial rally to reflect on the racial graffiti incident and brought up ways they can move forward. They mentioned the Black Student 10 Point Plan that was put together by the Student Government and the BSU in the light of the incident. It is a list of demands that students compiled for the university to create a better education system for black students.

Curlin’s preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 30 at 9:30 a.m. at the 14a-1 District Court in Ann Arbor. 

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