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NKU students march to protest repeated racist vandalism

NKU protests
Posted at 5:49 PM, Apr 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-12 23:17:27-04

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Dozens of Northern Kentucky University students marched through campus on Monday to express solidarity against the second instance of racist vandalism on their campus this year.

In January and again on April 3, vandalism and stickers promoting the Patriot Front, a known white nationalist hate group, were found on multiple campuses in the Tri-State.

At NKU, the Norse Commons rock, a symbol of the student body often decorated by students, was vandalized with spray paint. Most recently, the rock was decorated by Black student organizations and painted with different Black faces; the faces were spray painted over with X's and the stenciled logo of the Patriot Front also appeared on the rock.

"This has been extremely impactful for them," said Eddie Howard, vice president of student affairs at NKU. "And so as a result of that impact, we want to let them know that we support, hear what they're saying. Is there ways that we can improve some things on campus? And we want to know that. The best way to know that is to hear what students have to say."

After the extremist materials and vandalism were found on campus a second time, students expressed frustration and concern that the school wasn't doing enough to discourage or prevent it from happening.

"I think a really big thing is they need to understand that their statements aren't doing anything," said Jeffrey Huston earlier in April. Huston, a freshman at NKU, wasn't the only student asking the university to do more: A Change.org petition was created after the second incident that called on the university to launch an investigation into the presence of white supremacy on campus.

Monday's peaceful protest and march was designed to send a clear message that what has happened is not acceptable. Organizers of the march said it's also about starting a larger conversation centered around making NKU's diverse student population feel at home.

"We're not doing this for you, because ya'll are at home, chilling, laying on your couch while you caused all this dysfunction," said Aliya Cannon, an organizer of the march. "But we're doing this for us, because we're all stronger together. United we stand. Divided we fall and that's what we're standing on right now."

But some, like student Mohamed Omar, say the action being taken isn't enough.

"Change looks like a stance against the Patriot Front, calling out white supremacy in all forms,” he said.

Activist Chris Brown, who organized a Black Lives Matter march in Elsmere last year, was at NKU to stand in solidarity.

"They'll just start again, so it's a waste of time completely to continue targeting these kids," Brown said. "These young people, their monuments because they're going to keep going."

NKU police said they are investigating the incidents and the university has deployed more campus police overnight for patrols since the second vandalism, but no information about anyone who may have been involved has been released.

A “Watch the Rock” webcam stream allows students to monitor the rock in real-time.