MU student reports racially motivated hate crime

Friday, May 1, 2009 | 5:16 p.m. CDT; updated 9:05 a.m. CDT, Monday, May 4, 2009

COLUMBIA — At first, when MU senior Terence Williams discovered a racial slur scrawled on the door of his dorm room Monday evening, he was angry but unsure of what he wanted to do.

“I wasn’t going to do anything at first, but it was too important for me not to,” said Williams, who is from St. Louis.




He doesn't usually look at the corkboard on his door at Hatch Residence Hall. For some reason, the racial epithet caught his eye: “K3 you suck! NIGGER,” written in capital letters. The Khe took to be shorthand for the Ku Klux Klan.

Williams tried to take his mind off the matter. “I was riding in my car to try to calm down,” he said. “(First I felt) shock, and then that turned into anger and frustration.”

Williams sent text messages to his parents and two sisters about what happened. His father persuaded him to call the police.  

Williams filed an official report with MU Police the same day. "When I went to the police I said I wanted to file a hate crime (report)."

Capt. Brian Weimer, public information officer for MU Police, confirmed the report as well as the content of the message found on Williams’ cork board. According to the MUPD Clery Report, the incident was harassment with a discrimination motive intended to frighten or disturb another person and is being investigated as a hate crime.

Recent statistics from the U.S. Department of Justice show that there were four hate crimes reported based on race at MU in 2007. Statistics from 2008 are not yet available.

Officers so far have talked to 10 people who live at Hatch about the incident.

“Hopefully, someone saw something and we can get some information,” Weimer said.

When asked about the frequency of such incidents, Weimer said it would take some time to determine whether there had been any similar reports in the past year. He said he would have to go through each report of a harassing incident from 2008 to see if there were any similar incidents last year.

The Missourian has filed a Sunshine Law request to obtain statistics on the number of hate crimes on campus for the past three years.

“There is nothing that indicates a pattern,” he said “I can’t even remember one this semester.”

The incident investigation is still active.

Residential Life said it's doing its part to address the problem. "We work very closely with the police," said Kristen Temple, associate director of Residential Life.

 "(First) the staff makes contact with the student (to see) what kind of support they want," Temple said. Support includes referral to "campus resources."

Next, the staff sees what kind of follow-up the student would like within the community. "We want to be responsive to their wishes," Temple said.

Follow up could include:

  • A community meeting
  • An individual conversation where either the student or community adviser talks one-on-one with dorm residents about the incident
  • If the person responsible can be identified, the "conduct" — or disciplinary — process begins.

The situation is important to everyone involved, Temple said. "We take it pretty seriously."

Williams is taking the incident in stride, and his attitude about the dorm hasn't changed much — except for the acknowledgment that there are "a few foolish people" in the world. "I don't have time for this," he said. "I'm trying to graduate."

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Mark Foecking May 2, 2009 | 2:27 a.m.

I don't know. Some days, I hear that word several times a day around where I live, both in song lyrics and in conversation, and it doesn't seem to bother anyone.

I guess context is everything (?).


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 2, 2009 | 3:37 a.m.

Mark Foecking one problem I notice about this one word in question is that the African American Community across this entire nation can call themselves this word openly in public anywhere with no refutes but if any other race calls them that word they get all offended over it.

Now if they do not like the word why do they call it to each other?

That is the question that must be asked. You cannot have your cake and eat it to with out some residual effects afterward.

(Report Comment)
Greg Collins May 2, 2009 | 12:22 p.m.

I am skeptical of the story. The possibility of doing this to oneself for sympathy or other reason cannot be automatically discounted.

See the cases of Kerri Dunn, a professor of psychology at Claremont McKenna College, or the woman who carved a "B" into her own face during the campaign to stir up communities.

(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 2, 2009 | 3:10 p.m.

From the Missourian article:
("N>GG>R, written in capital letters.")
Funny, the Missourian wouldn't allow me to cut and paste their own line of print.
I thought it's used as a term of endearment.
I'm so confused.

(Report Comment)
Mark Foecking May 2, 2009 | 6:13 p.m.

Chuck wrote:

"Now if they do not like the word why do they call it to each other?"

I know why, and I know the difference in my saying it as opposed to a black person saying it. I'm just trying to start some discussion about it.



(Report Comment)
Ray Shapiro May 2, 2009 | 9:31 p.m.

This article "hits me" on several different levels.
When used as "hate speech" or as described in the above article, people's motives should be scrutinized. (The Klan and other organized "hate" groups have a history and pattern of violence and crime and need to be disbanded.)
Back in the 60's I attended a very racially mixed school. Back then, we did not have the phrase, "politically correct," and it was OK for me to refer to Negro friends as, "my brother." The the BIG "N" word was used primarily as a deragatory, put-down, stereotypical word in the same category as chink, kike, spic, fag and other inflammatory "labels."
When introducing the movie "Blazing Saddles," Ruby Dee and Ossie Davis, commented how Mel Brook's would use this "negative" word, and the perception it carried, to backfire on the good people of Rockridge when the "new sherrif isa nearer," and he saves the day.
(Only a Jew and a black man could get away with that tongue-in-cheek dialogue, back then. Richard Pryor also used the "N" word often in his stand-up.)
Today, the "N" word seems to be more acceptable, glorified and elevated in "gangsta' rap" music and as "friendly banter" amongst your own.
(The likes of Don Imus would have been tarred and feathered if he used the "N" word instead of "Nappy Headed Ho." Especially if someone like Al Sharpton got a hold of him.)
These are the kind of words which some try to use as "emotional verbal weapons," if you allow them to get through your armor.
Others can laugh at these words to make them as absurd and powerless as the person using them.
Emotional subject matter, none the less.
Get angry, be afraid, get your guard up, shirk it off, take offense and occasionally laugh. It also helps to know the messenger or just ask, "what do you mean by that?"

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 5:19 a.m.

Mark Foecking the point I was trying to make Mark is that if the African American Community across this entire nation hates or detests that one word yet they call each other that word aren't they in all actuality putting each other down in the eyes of society by setting a double standard?

I see both sides too but this obvious hypocrisy is just that hypocrisy they do amongst themselves all of the while trying to maintain a standard in others.

Sorry fellow readers that screams of a hypocrite no matter how you look at it and no matter how you try to describe it.

My next question is which race is actually trying in oppressing which race's freedom of speech in this?

(Report Comment)
Anton Berkovich May 3, 2009 | 9:56 a.m.

It is very naive, Charles, to think that everyone in the African American community calls each other that word. Since when did some music represent an entire culture? It isn't hypocritical at all because there are huge numbers of African Americans against the use of that word, and alongside that, you know absolutely nothing of the original student's use or nonuse of the word, which, either way, is completely irrelevant. Please stop being so close-minded.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 11:24 a.m.

>>> Art Vandelay May 3, 2009 | 9:56 a.m.
It is very naive, Charles, to think that everyone in the African American community calls each other that word. <<<

I do not think so at all. In fact if the African American Community was so against this one word they detest so much you would see more campaigning by the NAACP and any and all other organizations relating to the African American Community standing up more to right this wrong coming from this one word.

Do you see the above mentioned really going on across our nation in any national news headlines or on any national news networks? No you do not and in fact you do not hear of nor see any campaigning at all by any organizations affiliated with the African American Community up in arms at all to even stop this amongst their own race,in their part of the music industry or anywhere else. The only time they speak up on this is if a white person says that word.

That is hypocritical!

When I see organizations affiliated with the African American Community actually stand up to put a stop to this injustice they claim is brought upon them by the use of this one word then my opinions might change but until that time my opinions on this issue stand.

You can cut up a watermelon to look like a very lovely basket complete with it's own handle for carrying that can sit on your picnic blanket/table but in the end it is still a watermelon. Ask Ray Shapiro to give you lessons. :)

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 12:31 p.m.

Art Vandelay I did forget to add that Bill Cosby did try to reach out to his own people on this issue and they ie: The African American Community proceeded to call him "Uncle Tom".

I always thought his name was Bill Cosby.

(Report Comment)
John Schultz May 3, 2009 | 1:10 p.m.

There you go again Chuck, saying "The African American Community" disparaged Bill Cosby. There were some folks who did, but not the overwhelming majority you seem to think.

(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 1:40 p.m.

John Schultz my opinion still stands until I see different from the African American Community a a whole.

(Report Comment)
Ricky Gurley May 3, 2009 | 2:28 p.m.

Well Chuck, your opinion really does not "stand"; it is just YOUR opinion......... LOL.


(Report Comment)
Charles Dudley Jr May 3, 2009 | 9:45 p.m.

Ricky Gurley wrong as it is the opinion of alot of people across this nation I am sure no matter what race they might be.

I am just one of the more vocal of those people you see and not afraid to stand up and tell it as I as it truly is.

(Report Comment)
D Granger May 27, 2010 | 8:10 p.m.
This comment has been removed.

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