Missouri State homecoming protest met with racist slurs

SPRINGFIELD, Mo. – Missouri State University officials are denouncing treatment that some people received during a protest at homecoming events.

The protesters who marched silently through homecoming festivities on the Springfield campus Saturday say they were met with racial slurs and gun gestures.

"People were saying, 'Go back to St. Louis,' 'You don't belong here.' People were being called the N-word and people were making gun gestures," said Jakal Burrell-El, an MSU senior and organizer for Homecoming Blackout, Saturday's demonstration. He said he recognized some of the students verbally attacking the group, but because he was wearing a mask, they did not recognize him.

"When it happens on your own campus, it's kind of hard to deal with;... Some of the comments that we got reiterated the whole need for this protest in the first place."

University officials said in a statement Tuesday that it doesn’t condone actions or comments made against people who are practicing free speech.

And on Twitter, Athletic Director Kyle Moats apologized for ordering the removal of the group’s chalked protest messages, which included messages such as “Black Lives Matter” and outlines of bodies.

The Springfield News-Leader reports Moats said he ordered the chalk removed because he thought the comments were incendiary and inappropriate. He said he plans to apologize in person to the protest organizers.