WASHINGTON — Officials at American University in the nation’s capital are investigating what they say are racist incidents in which bananas were found hanging from string in the shape of nooses on campus.
University officials said in an email on Monday to students, faculty and staff that the bananas were marked with the letters AKA. The letters are those of the predominantly black Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority.
The bananas were found in three locations: at a shuttle bus stop, in front of a dining center and near another building.
Fanta Aw, the university’s interim vice president of campus life, said, “These racist, hateful messages have no place in our community.”
The bananas were found early Monday morning when Quinn Dunlea, a senior in the School of Public Affairs, saw a banana hanging from a lamp post while she was walking with her friend Dan Perry, a senior in the School of International Service, American University’s student newspaper, The Eagle, reported.
The two reported it to Public Safety before going around campus to see if there were others. They then found bananas that were marked similarly on another lamp post as well as on a tree, according to The Eagle. When Dunlea contacted Public Safety again, an officer said they were responding to two similar incidents.
“I was horrified,” Perry said. “It’s such ugliness and hatred on our campus.”
American University President Neil Kerwin said in a memorandum on Monday that “the crude and racially insensitive act of bigotry reported” that morning was being investigated by the university’s Campus Police with help from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and other university offices and senior officials.
“We strongly condemn what happened,” he said.
According to The Eagle, the incident coincided with Taylor Dumpson’s first day as president of American University Student Government. Dumpson is the first black woman president of the Student Government.
She said in a statement that the university community must show that bigotry, hate and racism won’t be tolerated.
Kerwisn said he regrets what happened and apologized to those offended.
“While this incident targeted AU’s chapter of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Incorporated, and occurred after the first black woman and AKA member was sworn in as the Student Government president-our entire university community has been adversely affected by this cowardly, despicable act,” he said.
On social media, users showed support for Alpha Kappa Alpha sorority with messages of solidarity and the hashtag #AUSupportsAKA.
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Source: CBS News – United States