U-Md. Responds to Possible Hate Crime

By Joe Holley
Washington Post Staff Writer
Monday, September 10, 2007; 2:44 PM

University of Maryland administrators moved quickly over the weekend to assure students and other members of the community that they were taking the possibility of a campus hate crime with the utmost seriousness.

"The University of Maryland will not tolerate discrimination, harassment or acts of hate," university President C. D. Mote Jr. wrote Saturday in a letter posted on the university's Web site.

Mote was responding to reports of a noose found hanging in a tree near a building that houses several African American campus organizations.

"The possibility that this act appears intended to bring to mind the horrific crime of lynching, which is such a terrible and tragic part of our nation's past, is particularly abhorrent," Mote wrote.

The noose, small and crudely tied, was found Thursday on a tree near the Nyumburu Cultural Center, home to the Black Faculty and Staff Association, the Black Explosion newspaper and other organizations.

Police said they have opened a criminal investigation and are treating the case as a hate crime.

In his letter, Mote wrote that the university's police chief, Kenneth W. Krouse, was reviewing all campus video equipment, examining physical evidence at the scene and meeting with students and other members of the campus community.

The incident was "highly unusual," said university spokesman Lee Tune.

In 1999, black student leaders and officials at the College Park campus received several racist threats of violence. An emotional rally against bigotry attracted approximately 2,000 people.

Figures compiled by Diverse magazine show that the University of Maryland graduates more African American students than any other public research university among the nation's top 25.

In 2006, African American students made up 12.9 percent of the university's 25,154 undergraduate students. Enrollment figures for 2007 are not yet available.

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