North Carolina

‘Hateful’ symbol found spray-painted inside Free Expression Tunnel, NC State says

‘Hateful’ symbol found spray-painted inside NC State’s Free Expression Tunnel

The Free Expression Tunnel at NC State is filled with graffiti and art from students, but a swastika was found spray-painted inside, which was condemned as hateful by the university and painted over.
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The Free Expression Tunnel at NC State is filled with graffiti and art from students, but a swastika was found spray-painted inside, which was condemned as hateful by the university and painted over.

The Free Expression Tunnel at North Carolina State is a place for students to display their artistic talents, promote events, cheer on teams and more — all while exercising their freedom of speech, according to the university.

But even in the graffiti-filled walkway there are limits to what is allowed.

When a swastika and other anti-Semitic images were found spray-painted in the tunnel, the university responded by condemning it as a “hateful expression.”

“Whenever people target others in order to instigate hatred and bigotry, we will stand up to reinforce the true values of our community, and to protect those impacted,” N.C. State’s interim vice provost for institutional equity and diversity Sheri L. Schwab said in a news release.

The university is investigating who is responsible for spray painting the swastika in the tunnel, WSOC reported.

The symbol, which was used by the Nazis in Germany leading up to and during World War II, was discovered in the tunnel on May 6, according to North Carolina Hillel.

“The swastika incites violence against Jews and can threaten students’ sense of safety,” NC Hillel said in a statement. “We are grateful to NC State’s leadership for the seriousness of their response.”

That response included students painting over the anti-Semitic images and the university “providing support and resources to members of our community who were impacted,” Schwab said in the news release.

On Saturday, graduation day at N.C. State, the swastika was still in the tunnel, WTVD reported.

While the investigation continues, the school and the student leadership are not wavering in their reaction.

“Myself, my team, and the university are working hard to ensure that all students feel comfortable and safe on campus and apologize for any fear that this may have brought on,” N.C. State student body President Emma Carter said, according to Hillel. “We stand beside you.”

Schwab echoed those sentiments in the news release, saying, “We strive to ensure our campus environment is inclusive, welcoming, safe and supportive, and incidents like this are challenging and frustrating to those efforts. Know that we stand with you, and that we’re always here to help.”

Swastikas were also found on Duke’s campus in nearby Durham last November, also in a free expression bridge tunnel, the News & Observer reported.

“That such a craven and cowardly act of vandalism – a desecration of a memorial to individuals who were killed because they were Jewish and practicing their faith – should happen anywhere is extremely distressing,” Duke President Vincent Price said in a statement, according to the newspaper.

Swastikas were spray-painted on about 200 grave markers at Sunset Hill Cemetery in Glen Carbon

Noah Feit is a Real Time reporter with The State and McClatchy Carolinas Regional Team. The award-winning journalist has worked for multiple newspapers since starting his career in 1999.
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