Racial slurs hurled at black students Tuesday night at the University of Missouri may have come first from a group of students who campus police say were “very intoxicated.”
The incident began just before midnight when two black female members of MU’s Legion of Black Collegians walked past a group of white students who they said called them a racial expletive. The black students reported the incident to a campus police officer nearby.
According to a five-page police report, the officer stopped the group of white students who had been accused of using hate speech in front of the Delta Upsilon fraternity house and questioned them along with the black students who made the accusation.
The police report said the students who were the target of the racial slur “were extremely upset and were shouting.” Members of the group of white students accused of using the N-word reportedly appeared to be drunk and may have earlier knocked over garbage cans on campus.
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While police were questioning students outside the Delta Upsilon house, a crowd of other students gathered on the sidewalk, and officers reportedly heard a series of racially charged comments being made by both black and white students.
Members of the fraternity house reported to police that they heard what they thought was a fight going on outside the house, so they opened windows and looked out.
Black students reported hearing slurs coming from the windows inside the Delta Upsilon house and believed they were being mocked by loud rap music that a fraternity member began playing from speakers in inside the house.
Police said although they heard shouting from the Delta Upsilon windows, they could not discern what was being said but were told by witnesses outside the fraternity house that racial slurs were being used. One officer reported hearing someone who had gathered outside the frat house make threatening remarks to members of the fraternity.
University officials and the Delta Upsilon national organization suspended the MU chapter of the fraternity Wednesday, the day after the incident.
The students involved were identified by police, and the entire incident was reported by university police to the Office for Civil Rights & Title IX.
The university said in a statement that its Office of Student Conduct and the Office of Civil Rights & Title IX “are taking appropriate action.” But the university declined to elaborate because of laws that protect student identities.
Interim Chancellor Hank Foley, in a statement to the campus community Wednesday, said he was “outraged and saddened” to hear about the incident. “We have zero tolerance for actions like this,” Foley said.
On Wednesday, students gathered at the MU Student Center for a prayer session. Later, a town hall meeting that was closed to the media was hosted by the Legion of Black Collegians at the Gaines/Oldham Black Culture Center.
A similar incident occurred last September, when the N-word was hurled at the student body president and in a separate incident toward members of the Legion of Black Collegians.
Those racially charged incidents sparked a series of campus protests last November led by a predominantly black student group, Concerned Student 1950.
University officials were accused by students of not responding to hate speech directed at black students and called for university leaders to step down. Ultimately, the university system president and MU’s chancellor resigned.