Graffiti found in U res hall

A profane statement and spit were found on a Centennial Hall resident’s door.

Jason Juno

A series of incidents in January at Centennial Hall are being called hate crimes by housing officials.

But University police said the incident in the series that qualifies as a hate crime was not reported to police.

In the incident, someone spit and wrote a profane statement on a resident’s door, according to a memo to Centennial Hall residents from Anthony Bettendorf, associate program director at Pioneer Hall.

A hate crime is called a “bias crime” in Minnesota, said Steve Johnson, deputy police chief for the University Police Department. Johnson said Minneapolis city officials told him a bias crime in Minnesota must target individuals, but the only incident at Centennial Hall that targeted an individual was not reported.

The reported incidents – which University police did not consider hate crimes – included a swastika and “bias-related profanity” written in a hall bathroom, the memo said.

The memo did not specify what the graffiti said.

The reported incidents also included a string of lights that someone used to create a noose with more “bias-related profanity” placed in the middle, the memo read. The incident was in the trash room, said Tam Knapton, director of Centennial Hall.

Johnson said the incidents were reported as “racial” incidents.

Police have little evidence for any of the incidents now, because a maintenance crew sanded the graffiti away before University police were notified, he said.

Officials did not file a police report after the crew came because the graffiti was gone, Knapton said.

Johnson said police should be notified as soon as possible when a crime occurs, so they can preserve evidence.

He said he encourages people with more information to contact University police.

Four to five cases of hate crimes are reported each year at the University, Johnson said.

“Generally speaking, hate crimes on campus are not reported very much,” he said.

Knapton said residents should know these crimes happen and that they are serious. She said students should report any incidents to staff and should be aware of what is going on around them.

Bettendorf wrote in the memo to Centennial Hall students that these acts are not tolerated in residence halls.

“These messages of intolerance and hate send the message to many individuals in the community that they are not welcome or that they are in danger of being harmed,” Bettendorf wrote.

Some Centennial Hall residents said they received an e-mail about the incident, but it did not worry them.

First-year mechanical engineering student Matt Zeller said that if a person threatened him individually, he would be worried about his safety.

Lesley Schmidt, a first-year student, said she thought the noose was “creepy and scary.”

She and first-year student Laura Grilli said it was a horrible thing for someone to do.

The incidents are not the first time a possible hate crime has been reported to police this school year. Four hate crimes were reported on campus last semester.