Racist vandalism at the Claremont Colleges

From a thread on cmcstudents, hyperlinks added:

[Tuesday], at 4pm, there was a community forum at CMC's Athaneum called "Hate Speech Versus Free Speech". During this, Professor Dunn made statements in support of minority groups and against hate speech, actions and perpetrators of such. She criticized the recent incidents* on the 5 C's [Claremont Colleges]. Sometime between 4pm-8pm (so right after her speech), her car was found vandalized in the parking lot on 6th and Amherst, all tires slashed, windows smashed, and spraypainted were the words, "nigger lover," "bitch," "SHUT UP," and "kike whore." The Claremont Police classified it as a hate crime.


*the recent incidents had varying severity and racial motivation:

  • Four students stole and burned a cross during winter break. (This incident divided students in several ways.)
  • A club's scavenger hunt included the item "Photograph yourself with 10 Asian students".
  • Someone took a green marker and wrote "NIGGER" next to George Washington Carver's picture in a calendar. The calendar was on a hallway bulletin board at CMC.
  • Scripps students put up posts such as "'Nigger.' Renewing old hate in the new millennium." and "'Nigger.' This is the ignorance that a $35,000 a year education produces." Some students didn't see the satire indended by the creators of the posters.

5 Responses to “Racist vandalism at the Claremont Colleges”

  1. Jesse Ruderman Says:

    Some reactions from blogs:


    The people who commit these hate crimes do not feel that they act alone. They believe that there are many other people who approve of what they are doing. When they look around (though their apparently bigoted eyes) they saw mostly white people, mostly apathetic white people, and they feel that their actions are justified because there are so many other members of the community who they believe support their racist views. When we come together for rallies, sit-ins, and meeting we send a clear message, we let them know that they are wrong: we do not approve, none of us approve. This is why it is so important to have a lot of people show up at these events; we can only send this message by standing together to show our disapproval.

    I think the education gained today through the cancellation of classes far outweighs the loss of classtime. Also, marching down to the rally with so many of my friends and fellow Mudders really made me proud.


    Why does it take an incident like this to bring the community together? It seems as though a few months ago, when a cross was burned …, students blamed it on “drunkenness” and that it was a dumb “prank” and soon it was ignored and scrapped in the back of our minds.


    First there was the “Cross Burning Incident”.
    I did not take the incident that seriously, only because it seemed to me like a bunch of ignorant dumb drunk kids doing dumb things. However, the Claremont College community reacted to the “Cross Burning Incident” with vigor…almost too much vigor. There was a protest and multiple forums. I understand the complexity of the issue, and I don’t mean to say that it should have been ignored. But it was just…extreme.

    And meanwhile, on a side remark, the Claremont Colleges are very selective about what they publicize. After all, hateful words about Christians are brushed off; a girl’s car windows were bashed in because of a Bush bumper sticker and this got no attention.


    I was appalled that something like this could happen, but the response has dismayed me more, in some ways.

    The witch-hunters bay again, implying that anyone who has dared to speak against their opinions is responsible for this incident. If you don’t believe that protests and marches are necessary, good, and effective, or believe that free speech is free speech, even when it’s hate, you are an evil racist and must be burned at the stake as a sacrifice to the gods of collegiate liberalism. I have yet to hear anyone defend the actions of those responsible for any of these incidents. I think it’s obvious that whoever is doing these things cares not for the opinions of the majority of the colleges. Words are empty against such threats; justice will have to have suffice.

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/iainuki/42313.html (same person as previous)

    I find the attitude that, “If you’re not for us, you’re against us,” dangerous. It leaves no room for debate about means, even in the case where ends are the same, and it doesn’t recognize that the real world exists in shades of gray. Racism is not an either-or: there’s a continuum stretching from individuals who have devoted their lives to anti-racist activism on one side to the leaders of the Ku Klux Klan on the other. In the middle are many people who are apathetic about racial issues but who don’t support racist opinions, actions, or violence (for the curious, I’m a little further to the antiracist side of the spectrum because I like to argue my principles, but as I said, it’s not one of the things I care about most). These individuals are not necessarily evil: they may just be putting their energies to doing other good.

    http://www.livejournal.com/users/iainuki/42313.html -> quoted message board post

    I’m always amazed at Claremont College students who try to enforce community social norms because if society ever actually practiced that standard, Claremont Colleges students would find themselves outside the mainstream on nearly every single topic.

    Value systems propogated by social norms and enforced in part through social pressure stood in the way of school integration, inter-racial marriages, etc. Ellie, if we applied the approach you seem to favor to fight racism to gay marriage, the vast majority of Americans who oppose gay marriage would be able to stifle rational debates on the matter by shouting down their opponents and marching in front of the homes of gay spouses.

    In our opposition to racism, reason is our greatest tool because we are right. Convince as many people as possible that racism is wrong through reason, and it will not be an acceptable view to hold in society – as it isn’t currently.


    I don’t understand the people who did this. I can understand hating a specific person, but I cannot understand hating some type of people. I cannot understand expressing hatred, of any form, with violence, especially violence as cowardly and underhanded as what was done. I cannot understand what I can do for this community.

    I don’t want to go after the people who did this with pitchforks. They need to be punished, yes, but what I want to do is ask them why. The answer would probably scare me, but I want to understand. However, I feel that with such unreasonable hatred, that is impossible.


    I also must say that though much of the discussion focused on race, and I’m glad people are discussing race, race is not the most important issue here for me. The issue is, someone spoke out and was threatened. When I talked to Rachel earlier, I said that it was not ok, and whoever did this couldn’t get away with it. She pointed out that they did get away with it. Well, in reality, they didn’t. They did not keep people from speaking out against racism. There are too many of us. We refuse to be threatened.

    I think that’s what made the rally tonight so powerful. I went because I wanted to show my community that I will stand up for their right to express their opinion without being threatened. There were so many people there. I didn’t participate in the chanting (it felt too weird to me). I think the rally has been wrongly portrayed on community-l as an “angry mob.” It was not an angry mob, it was a group showing support for members of the community that have been threatened.

  2. tom Says:

    Turns out it was a hoax?

    from CMC’s website:
    Statement of President Pamela Gann Regarding Police Investigation of Vandalism Incident

    Date Issued: 03/17/2004

    The Claremont Police Department and Federal Bureau of Investigation announced this afternoon that they have completed their investigation into the alleged vandalizing of a Claremont McKenna College faculty member’s car on Tuesday, March 9, 2004. According to their report, two witnesses have come forward to positively identify the faculty member as vandalizing her own vehicle. Additionally, interviews with the faculty member revealed inconsistencies in her statements regarding the incident. Based on this information, as well as other information revealed during the investigation, the Claremont Police Department will present its findings to the Los Angeles District Attorney’s Office for review.

    The professor involved has a teaching contract for two years through June 30, 2004. Based on the information from the police investigation, Claremont McKenna College will be conducting a further investigation into the professor’s employment relationship with the College for the remainder of this academic year. No decision has been made at this time.

    While this information certainly comes as a shock and surprise to our community, Claremont McKenna College remains committed to its mission as an undergraduate residential college in which academic freedom and free speech are wholeheartedly supported, and in which all individuals feel welcome to study and teach here, and free to express their viewpoints, thoughts, and ideas.

  3. tom Says:

    Comments from Pomona College LiveJournal

    It’s just so friggin’ weird! From what I’ve heard, she was one of the calmest, positive speakers at the rallies- not to lump in most of the folks with the few people who used it as an excuse to spout off at a microphone, but I would have expected a person willing to vandalize their own car and plunge the community into terror to be a bit more radical/controversial in her statements.

    Okay, now on to Professor Dunn, assuming the report is correct and final…
    What the HELL were you thinking?! Did it ever occur to you how much fear you would be causing?! Was having every African American at the 5Cs afraid to walk out their doors a just sacrifice to your cause? You have used fear to manipulate the entire community into adopting your perverted vision of what the racial climate is on these campuses, and have only marginally better standing in my eyes than a terrorist (only because no innocent person was declared perpetrator and beaten by an angry mob- thank god the STUDENTS here have more goddamned sense than you do). People like you are an infection in society; if what you believe to exist doesn’t, you’ll create it, and in doing so, render completely ineffectual the efforts of people truly committed to building a tolerant, peaceful community. Every *real* experience of hatred at the 5Cs can now be dismissed as just a wag-the-dog attempt by extremists. Good job- way to further whatever the hell agenda you thought you were advancing.

    And I damned well hope they make you pay everyone back for those classes we missed. Twisted bitch.

  4. tom Says:

    Whodunnit? Dunn dunnit

    Comments on Pomona’s forum…

  5. tom Says: