“We do consider this a hate crime,” Diane Brown, public information officer for the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security, told The Washington Post. The Ann Arbor Police Department is heading the investigation.
Witnesses described the suspect as a white man in his 20s or 30s with an average height, an athletic build and an unkempt appearance. Police also said the man reportedly appeared to be intoxicated.
The investigation comes amid reports of threats and harassment in several parts of the country after the election of Donald Trump. Many of the incidents were directed toward African Americans, immigrants, Muslims and the LGBT community, according to the Southern Poverty Law Center, which tallied more than 200 incidents nationwide.
The incidents were reported on the news, on social media and directly to the organization’s website. The center, however, cautioned that not all incidents involved direct references to Trump and that not every incident could be independently verified. Many involved vandalism, while others were direct attacks.
Trump’s campaign rhetoric against immigrants and Muslims has energized white supremacy groups and members of the “alt-right” movement. On the campaign trail, the president-elect had promised to keep Muslims from entering the United States. He later backed off from a complete ban, saying his proposal would keep immigrants from countries that have been “compromised by terrorism.”
In his victory speech, Trump sent a conciliatory message, promising to be a “president for all Americans.”
But the aftermath of the election is anything but conciliatory, as anti-Trump protests spread across the country while people from certain backgrounds report being harassed or threatened.
In a statement released Saturday afternoon, the university’s public safety officials said they are “very concerned and disturbed” by the alleged crime.
“Officers are conducting additional patrols in that area and the Ann Arbor police are actively investigating,” according to the statement.
Anyone with information is encouraged to contact Ann Arbor police at (734) 794-6939 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.
A similar incident occurred in Georgia, where a Muslim high school teacher said someone left an anonymous note in her classroom telling her that her “headscarf isn’t allowed anymore.”
The note, scribbled in black ink, also told her to “tie” her headscarf around her neck and “hang yourself with it.”
In Ohio, a Muslim woman, her children and her elderly parents were threatened by a man while they were stopped at a traffic light, according to the Ohio chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations. The man allegedly approached the family’s car, banged on the window and told the woman that she “doesn’t belong in this country” — while yelling obscenities and taking pictures of her children.
At the University of Pennsylvania, several black freshmen received racist messages — which included images of people hanging from trees and a “daily lynching” calendar — from a student from another school.
This story, originally published on Nov. 13, 2016, has been updated.