Lt. McCloskey told TheDCNF in June that both students had “lawyered up” after their statements and that police had not heard from them.
Bleier recently had an academic paper published along with Oberlin professor Matthew Elrod in The Journal of Physical Chemistry. As a student at Ithaca High School, Bleier ranked among the top 50 students in the nation in the 2010 Chemistry Olympiad. On his LinkedIn page, he claimed to have scored nearly perfect on his SAT.
A recent Oberlin graduate who knows both Bleier and Alden spoke to TheDCNF in a phone interview.
“I wouldn’t consider the individuals involved to be racists,” he said. “I think they were kind of troublemakers trying to stir up the pot a little bit.”
The student, who spoke on the condition of anonymity, also suggested that Alden got a kick out of messing with people. “Matt was more of the prankster,” he explained. “Considering they were trolls, they were kind of getting what they wanted out of people getting so upset about it.”
But “then it got to the point where they realized it was bigger than they imagined it could become,” the student added.
The student thinks that Bleier and Alden were likely behind all of the hateful graffiti that marred that campus during the string of incidents in February. He also said that Alden and Bleier had been suspended and removed from campus before the March 4 report of someone wearing KKK attire.
Cornell University law professor William Jacobson, who tracked the Oberlin story at his blog Legal Insurrection, said the fraudulent hate-related incidents “may be the greatest race hoax since Tawana Brawley.”
Jacobson has unsuccessfully reached out to Oberlin officials for comment on the incidents on several occasions.
“Oberlin allowed the entire country to go through months of handwringing over supposedly racist incidents knowing full well it was a hoax,” Jacobson told TheDCNF. “If the president of Oberlin knew of this hoax and allowed Oberlin falsely to be portrayed as a racist campus, he should resign.”
TheDCNF’s requests Wednesday for comment from President Krislov and communications director Scott Wargo were not returned. The school has directly refused to comment on the hoax in the past.
Jeri Galluci, who heads White Allies Against Structural Racism, the Ithaca-based anti-racism alliance cited on LinkedIn by Bleier, confirmed to TheDCNF that Bleier is a member of the group.
“No, no, no,” she said when asked if she thought Bleier was a racist. She added that she had no prior knowledge of the police report recounting Bleier’s involvement in the Oberlin incident.
TheDCNF was able to reach Bleier Tuesday afternoon at his job in Ithaca. He denied involvement in the incidents, but asked for a phone number to reach TheDCNF. He has not called back. However, by Tuesday evening his Twitter account was switched from public to private, and his LinkedIn account had been taken offline.
TheDCNF reached Alden by phone on Wednesday. He hung up without comment. Alden subsequently shut down his Facebook account.
This article has been corrected to state that Bleier hosted the voter registration drive in 2008.
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