Photos of new discriminatory messages that were painted on Eastern Michigan University’s Freedom Walls surfaced on social media. The photos began to appear online on the night of Saturday, Jan. 19.
The messages targeted the Black Lives Matter movement. A message found on the Freedom Walls, located in between Pray-Harrold, said, “BML doesn’t matter.”
“If I find out this means what I think it means I’m transferring,” was a comment found on social media.
The message was one of many discriminatory messages to appear on EMU’s campus in the last three years.
“This is annoying, but I know people are going to be racist everywhere,” Trevon Tiggs, a senior at EMU, said.
Student Government manages the Freedom Walls and said they were informed about the messages on the morning of Sunday, Jan. 20.
Within an hour of finding out about the messages, Student Government was at the site to paint over the message with positive words.
The discriminatory message was painted over saying, “Hate has no home here,” on one wall and “EMU no hate,” on the other wall.
Geoff Larcom, Executive Director of Media Relations, said: “The University condemns speech targeting specific groups of individuals based on race, ethnicity, religion, national origin, sexual orientation or gender expression and other protected classes.”
Last semester, anti-semitism messages were painted on the Freedom Walls. The original message read, “Together against anti-semitism.” The word “anti” was covered up to then be read as, “Together against Semitism.”
Actions like these are likely to continue, and the university expressing disapproval will not stop these actions, according to Larcom.
The Freedom Walls are a free space intended for students to convey messages to the campus community. Messages on the walls normally provide information about upcoming events, bring awareness to a cause or are political statements.
Any student may write on the Freedom Walls. Student government encourages messages written on the walls be in a positive tone.
During the 2016-2017 school year, three incidents of racial graffiti targeted the black community. These messages were written on campus buildings.
The first incident happened in September of 2016 saying, “KKK Leave N------.” The second incident took place in October of 2016 saying, “Leave N------.” The third incident took place in the spring of 2017 saying, “N------.”
Police found former EMU student Eddie Curling to be guilty of the crime.
Curling is now serving time in prison for the destruction of property, four counts of identity theft and one count for computers to commit a crime stemming from vandalism incidents.
“Unlike writing on buildings or other spaces, the mere expression of opinion, even an opinion that may be objectionable to many people, is not a crime when written on those spaces,” Larcom said.
Larcom and Student Government said the appropriate response to objectionable messages painted on those spaces is to paint over it with a new message.