SIU students, parents react to racist video threatening lynchings, beatings
CARBONDALE, IL —
An anonymous video threatens the safety of SIU students, specifically calling on white students to beat and lynch black students on campus on May 2.
"I do not want one student, if we can help it, to feel unsafe," said SIU Interim Chancellor Brad Colwell. Colwell says the video is sickening. He’s asking the community to stay calm as they work to address the issue.
We have chosen not to show the video because of its graphic, violent content.
May 2: a week ago the day represented plans by peaceful students to rally against student loan debt. Now, it’s the day an anonymous video posted by user "ATO AZO" on YouTube calls for lynching and similar brutal attacks against African Americans at SIU.
Many students say — with recent bouts of racism on campus — it’s shocking to hear, but not all that surprising.
“I feel like it’s really sad and really hurtful that we pay all this money to go here, and we can’t even feel safe here,” said Reina Ashley, a student at SIU. She and her friends say they’re frustrated with how the university is handling racism on campus and want to see more done to help.
"I was a little shocked at first, to be honest," said Walter Kloepfer, a freshman at SIU. He says he thinks the video was intended to spread fear and rile up students on campus. He says he hopes nothing comes of the threat, but they need to be prepared if it does.
Bridgette Hoskins says her daughter is looking at going to school at SIU. She says all her kids are trained in martial arts to defend themselves, but she still worries about their safety.
“Actually, I’m very concerned because we live in a place where it’s supposed to be America, the land of the free,” says Hoskins. She says racism happens all over the country, and she doesn’t plan on letting the video prevent her daughter from picking SIU.
Colwell says the video has their full attention. The school says they’ll be prepared with added security on campus that day. Condemning its racist message Monday, Colwell says SIU is investigating the video and its threat to students. The school says it could not comment on whether the IP address or internet connection used could be traced back to campus.
"I cannot say how reprehensible that video was. I’m sickened by it, and I will say it has been taken down," Colwell says. The video has been taken off of YouTube, but has popped up on other sites since the original post was taken down.
SIU says it won’t be canceling any classes on May 2, but any student who feels unsafe won’t be punished if they don’t want to go to class that day. Punishments for the person who created the video, however, could range from an apology to expulsion and potential charges, according to SIU.
“I’ll be in class on May 2. I pay my money to go here. I’ve earned my right to earn my education. I go to school here. I’m not afraid," Ashley says. She says she wants to see SIU protect its students so the threats never come to fruition.
The video posted online claims to be associated with the Alpha Tau Omega, or ATO, Fraternity at SIU. The fraternity’s national office says they have condemned the video, and that its members had nothing to do with its creation or its message.
Anyone with information about who might have created the video is asked to contact police.