poster

A poster reading "In 1950 America was 90 percent white, it is now only 60 percent white. Will you become a minority in your own country?" was found at the entrance on Hamilton Hall in the early morning hours of Oct. 27, 2016.

Iowa State police are investigating posters found on campus early Thursday with messages of white heritage and are asking for help to find more information.

About 20 posters were found on campus, according to an email from Iowa State administrators. The signs included messages such as "white students you are not alone be proud of your heritage," and "In 1950 America was 90 percent white, it is now only 60 percent white. Will you become a minority in your own country?"

The posters were removed because they violated the facilities and grounds use policy, according to Iowa State. The posters may have also violated Iowa State's discrimination and harassment policies

Deputy Chief Carrie Jacobs, who leads investigations with ISU PD, said they believe the posters were hung up between midnight and 6 a.m. early Thursday.

Jacobs said they are currently sifting through what access they have around campus to identify leads and trying to narrow down the suspect or suspects.

Jacobs asked that if anyone sees any posters in the residence halls to call police, as signs have only been found on the outside of buildings across campus.

The signs were reported to police by the custodial staff at about 4 a.m. Thursday and are currently being removed if more are found.

Jacobs is also asking that if anyone was on campus early Thursday morning and thinks that they might have seen something suspicious to reach out to the police department.

Iowa State administrators sent an email to the Iowa State community Thursday morning, saying the posters were removed and violated university policy.

"These posters also depict historical references or messages that could evoke feelings of bias or racism. It is our understanding that several universities around the country have recently discovered similar posters on their campuses... As members of the Cyclone Family, we must remain committed to working together toward a more inclusive, respectful and accepting campus."

Student Government President Cole Staudt said he has told his cabinet members that if they see a poster, they should take it down.

"I'm glad to see [the administration is] on top of it this time," Staudt said, adding that he felt the administration was slow to respond after the poster ripping at the 2015 Cy-Hawk game. "Bigger picture, something we can't accomplish overnight is how do we expose our students to different points of view."

Staudt said the posters were "disturbing" and "inappropriate" and meant to spark tension, adding that it is not the way to move forward.

On Thursday afternoon, a "hate wall" was located outside Parks Library as part of an already planned event in "The Awakening Series," which is a three-day event "celebrating, discussing and providing a safe space for multicultural students to express their experiences in United States culture." Some students at the wall were discussing the posters.

Ngoc Doan, president of the Asain Pacific American Awareness Coalition and an event organizer, said that the posters reflect "a dialog that some students, have but normally don't express." She added that the posters demonstrate the belief that in the year 2016, race and ethnic background don't impact how people are treated is untrue.

Similar posters were found on the University of Iowa campus last week, which administrators denounced as “deeply offensive," The Cedar Rapids Gazette reported.

The Iowa State Police Department can be reached at its non-emergency dispatch number (515) 294-4428.

The Daily's Emily Barske contributed to this story.

(17) comments

Luke Skywalker

And what crime is alleged to have been committed that warrants a police investigation? Just because speech might be offensive that does not necessarily make it illegal. Yes the posters are in bad taste, but the answer is just to tear them down and move on...not criminalize free expression.

How about everybody just calm down, act like adults, take some deep breaths and realize the posters are JUST POSTERS!

Joshua Cunningham

A potential crime would be vandalism. Not only were the posters themselves unapproved and not only were they put in unapproved areas, but the entire back surface of each poster was completely covered in a strong adhesive. Razor blades and special chemicals were needed to take them down, and the residue is very difficult to remove completely.
It's also something worth having the police look into because the imagery and rhetoric of the posters is at least reminiscent of what you see coming from white supremacist hate groups. When something like that pops up in your neighborhood, it's worth having the police look into it and ask some questions.

Luke Skywalker

Well first off, other than messing with railroads...the crime of vandalism does not exist under Iowa law. What does exist is criminal mischief. But again, just because the posters are offensive that does not make them illegal or the posting them criminal. Does putting up posters in "unauthorized areas" (who knows what those are?) probably a violation of University policy? Yes. But is that a crime? Probably not. So what if the images might be construed as being from a white suprematist group? That's still not a crime. Again just because something is offensive that does not mean it rises to the level of being criminal. If the posters have an adhesive as you state and are actually damaging building then you might have a case, but the content of the posters should be irrelevant in a free society.

Joshua Cunningham

Okay, fine, this would probably fall under "criminal mischief in the fifth degree" rather than being legally called "vandalism." Good to know.
Trespassing could be another possibility, but as far as I know the posters were all in public areas.
And while you are correct that being "offensive" or having white supremacist nonsense doesn't constitute any sort of criminal action, this kind of thing is still probably worth the police to take notice of. Imagine if instead of these posters a bunch of buildings were tagged with symbols of a street gang; I imagine the response would be similar, even if being affiliated with the gang isn't a crime in and of itself.

Luke Skywalker

It is an absolute waste of ISU PD time, resources, and manpower to investigate something that is not in fact criminal activity. Just as society empowers police with authority to investigate crime and arrest criminals, it is equally important to draw the line for none criminal matters...today the issue is racist posters, tomorrow it could be unpopular political speech or music lyrics that people find offensive. Let's say the offenders in this case were somehow identified...what would the police possibly charge them with? If there is no crime, there is no reason for tax payer funded police resources to be wasted. The real problem is that the ISU administration is presuming that because some behavior violates their policy that the police have some duty to get involved. Again pasting racists posters around campus may be offensive, but it's not criminal. How about the ISU community act like adults and no be so fragile as to get bent out of shape over some stupid posters?

Jonathan Morgan

It's not exactly a complete waste of time. Those posters suggest fighting and the supremacy of a specific race in an academic and diverse environment. So the they only serve to create hostility and discomfort in these places. The University and police department are entities of the state. Both are obligated to subdue whomever "disturbs the peace." For example, the music at a weekend party that is disturbing at any time of the day when the noise is offensive so the police stop this type of behavior. Is this a waste of taxpayers money? No. Because, some individuals need to concentrate or rest in order to become functioning members of society. This situation is analogous, because these posters are a type of hostile inducing noise in an academic environment where it is strictly prohibited, in the first place. You should know that there are fines and lawsuits that await these kind of policy breakers whom seek to "disturb the peace." And the lions that enforce these policies must reveal their teeth at some point.

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