The perpetrator responsible for drawing two swastikas and at least one racial epithet in New Hall was apprehended Saturday night, University officials confirmed Sunday morning.
The suspect, a GW student whose name is being withheld by the University Police Department, was caught using footage from security cameras placed throughout New Hall. UPD was able to narrow down the time frame for the student’s attacks by watching footage from Friday’s incident in which the words “white power” were written along with a swastika. On Tuesday, the same student wrote “niggers” at the bottom of a poster advertising an event for a black engineering group.
“The suspect has been barred from campus, will face student judicial action, and a determination will be made as to whether District of Columbia and/or federal laws were violated,” Schario said.
UPD is continuing its investigation into the eight swastikas drawn in both Mitchell Hall and Potomac House and those found near GW Hospital. Schario said there is no current evidence to suggest the perpatrator responsible for the drawings in New Hall is also responsible for drawings in Mitchell.
“Currently, there is no evidence to suggest any connection between the suspect charged Saturday night and the incidents still under investigation,” she said.
Rob Fishman, the executive director of GW Hillel, said he is glad that someone has been charged for these attacks but said he was saddened that the student had to express himself through the drawing of swastikas.
“This is clearly a cry for help on the part of the student,” Fishman said. “This is not normal behavior.”
Fishman said he thinks the swastikas are the work of a copycat and hopes UPD can find the other perpetrators.
“This is clearly the work of a copycatter targeted against different communities on campus,” he said. “I’m glad that they’ve found the perpetrator behind this attack. I look forward to (UPD) catching the next one.”
Michael Tapscott, director of the Multicultural Student Services Center, said Friday that the racial slur, along with the swastikas, exemplify a climate of escalated racial insensitivity on campus.
“When it starts getting written on doors, that’s more aggressive, and it frankly becomes a clear issue – not of ignorance – but bordering on intolerance,” Tapscott said.
Senior Charles Basden, president of the Black Student Union, said there is “room for concern” with recent incidents of hate on campus.
“The recent months have shown a trend in our country of ugly racism and cultural insensitivity,” Basden said. “The University should also continue to push for diversity and cultural immersion strategies. This is the legwork that has to be done if we are serious about changing the way in which people think about others’ cultures and start to reverse the trend that has created itself recently.”
Basden said members of the black community started an initiative called the “Stop the Hate Campaign” which will reach out to other ethnic groups. He said it will address the fears of ethnic groups, lobby GW administrators to review University policies regarding hate speech and work with UPD and the Residence Hall Association to monitor hate behavior in residence halls.
Andrew Ramonas contributed to this report.
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