American University has released photographs and video footage of a suspect they say distributed 10 racist fliers bearing the Confederate flag, cotton stalks and the phrase “Huzzah for Dixie” around the university’s Washington, D.C. campus earlier this week.
This photograph shows one of the 10 racist fliers bearing the Confederate flag, cotton stalks and the phrase “Huzzah for Dixie” distributed around American University’s Washington, D.C. campus. (Twitter photo)
The suspect is described as a 5-foot-10-inch White man in his 40s, according to D.C. radio station WTOP. In a 13-second video clip, he is seen walking in a hallway as he wears a construction helmet, a reflective vest and carries a case of some sort.
The school released the images and video on Sept. 27, a day after the fliers were discovered in at least four campus buildings, on bulletin boards and elsewhere.
University President Sylvia M. Burwell said American will respond strongly to attempt to harm and instill fear in the campus community, and held a community gathering on campus Sept. 27 in response to the incident.
“We must stand together strongly against this act, which was intended to frighten and divide our community,” Burwell said in a statement. “I ask you to join me in standing together and show that we will not be intimidated.”
The fliers were put up hours after Ibram X. Kendi, a history and international relations professor, detailed his vision for leading the school’s forthcoming Anti-Racist Research and Policy Center. The university announced plans to create the center last year with Kendi, a race scholar and bestselling author, as its founding director.
Vice President of Campus Life Fanta Aw said in a statement that the school is committed to Kendi’s work and will not be “deterred by this cowardly attempt at intimidation.”
On Twitter, Kendi instructed American students, especially individuals of color and Jewish students, not to let “these terrorists slow you down, fear you down.”
“Courage is not the absence of fear,” Kendi wrote. “It is the strength to do what is right in the face of it. In the coming days and weeks and months, no matter what happens, let’s gather that strength together.”
The fliers, meanwhile, are the latest in a series of racist events that have rocked the campus located in leafy, upper Northwest Washington.
In May, an unknown person put bananas hanging from strings shaped like nooses around the school on the same day Taylor Dumpson became the first Black woman president of its student government association.
The bananas were found in three places around campus and bore the letters AKA, the initials for Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc. Dumpson is a member of the sorority, DCist reported.
Elsewhere, White supremacist fliers were also found at Georgetown University, George Washington University and the University of Maryland in March, DCist reported.
University police are investigating the recent flier distribution as a bias incident.
Anyone with information about the incident should call American University’s public safety department at (202) 885-2527.