Local News

NAACP wants to meet with Wake DA, Bowles over graffiti

Posted November 18, 2008 4:09 p.m. EST
Updated November 18, 2008 6:18 p.m. EST

— The NAACP on Tuesday decried what it labeled a "tepid response" by North Carolina State University officials to racist messages about President-elect Barack Obama that were spray-painted in the campuses "Free Expression Tunnel."

The National Association for the Advancement of Colored People called for a meeting with University of North Carolina President Erskine Bowles to express concerns about "the apparent lack of policy and aggressive action regarding hate crimes and acts on at least some of the 16 campuses in the system."

While some students painted pro-Obama messages in N.C. State's tunnel on the night of Nov. 4, racist graffiti was there early Nov. 5, campus police said.

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

State NAACP President William Barber met with N.C. State Chancellor James Oblinger last Wednesday and called for the four students who admitted to painting the racist messages to be expelled. The NAACP also wants a UNC system policy on hate speech and diversity training for students.

"No race-based threats of violence against African-Americans or other people of color can be tolerated in the campus-wide zones of free expression," Barber said in a statement Tuesday. "Our tax dollars created and maintain these zones of free expression."

The NAACP also wants to meet with Wake County District Attorney Colon Willoughby to discuss why hate crime charges weren't filed against the four students. The organization also may lobby state lawmakers to amend hate-crime statutes so similar acts in the future could result in criminal charges, officials said.

The group also plans to lobby Congress to strengthen enforcement of federal laws that could cut funding to universities that don't crack down on hate crimes, officials said.