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N.C. State student leaders lobby for hate-crime act

N.C. State student leaders came together Wednesday evening to talk about passing a "Free Expression Tunnel Hate Crime Act" after four classmates admitted to painting racist remarks about President-elect Barack Obama on the night of Nov. 4.

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RALEIGH, N.C. — There was a call for change Wednesday evening at North Carolina State University when student leaders came together to talk about passing a "Free Expression Tunnel Hate Crime Act" after classmates admitted to painting racist remarks about President-elect Barack Obama on the night of Nov. 4.

Two of the messages in N.C. State's "Free Expression Tunnel" said: "Let's shoot that (N-word) in the head" and "Hang Obama by a noose."

A bill in the school's Student Senate urges the university to immediately expel those who promote violent and racist actions on campus and to prosecute the offending students to the fullest extent of state and federal law.

No charges have been filed by campus police or state or federal authorities.

The goal is also "to let other students at North Carolina State University know that this is not tolerated,” Sen. Michael Griffin said of the bill.

The Senate voted not to "fast-track" the bill by a tally of 38-13, and sent it to a committee for further review. The fast track would have required quick action. Instead, the senate will take up the measure again next Wednesday.

Four students have come forward and admitted to spray-painting the racist messages, the university says. The school has not released their names. Since the students were not charged with a crime, the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People wants the university to expel them.

"We have to hold all of our institutions accountable," said Amina Turner, state NAACP executive director.

The NAACP is pushing for N.C. State and other public universities across the state to implement a system-wide policy on hate speech and to hold diversity training for students.

N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger met with State NAACP President Rev. William Barber for about 90 minutes Wednesday morning to talk about the incident.

Oblinger refused to take questions from reporters after the closed-door meeting. He made a brief statement: "Both sides have a good understanding of each other's perspective and we agreed to move forward."

Barber has asked Oblinger to respond, in writing, within 48 hours with an official response from the university.


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