Students at the University of Delaware are taking it hard after the discovery that an alleged hate crime was just a misunderstanding. Some students even insist a hate crime still occurred.
The incident happened Tuesday night, when students thought they found several nooses hanging from a tree. Word quickly spread as campus officials swiftly released a statement condemning the foul hate crime. But come morning, police said a short investigation had led them to conclude the “nooses” were really just the remnants of paper lanterns from an event held all the way back in June.
Unperturbed by the truth, students launched an assembly following the incident to speak as though the hate crime really did happen. According to The News Journal, a local paper, the assembly was held “to find ways to change the campus climate” in the wake of the bad atmosphere apparently exposed by a fictional hate crime.
“We are here today because we’re not returning hate with hate,” Black Lives Matter protester Ayanna Gill said Wednesday, according to The News Journal. “But this is not the end.” It’s not clear what hate Gill was avoiding the return of, since no hate crime happened.
One administrator said the climate of hate at Delaware was exposed by the mere fact he could even believe the alleged hate crime occurred.
“To wake up early and see that [photo] caption,” said UD director of government relations Rick Deadwyler. “The image and the idea that something like that was plausible on our campus was concerning.”
Some students flat-out said they thought the university and police may be lying to cover up a crime, even though UD police chief Patrick Ogden made a special video explaining exactly how the misunderstanding happened:
“I shouldn’t feel unsafe walking past a building where there were supposedly nooses hanging down, but I do,” student Elexis Keels told The News Journal. “I don’t think it was paper lanterns.” According to The News Journal, “many” students agree with Keels, and say the completely innocuous wire objects revealed a huge problem.
As a result, school officials say the hate crime (which, again, did not happen) is spurring them to action.
“We are bigger than hate,” said UD vice provost for diversity Carol Henderson, whose claim seems self-evident given the lack of any hate crimes at Delaware. “We hear you. We see you … We need to walk arm in arm with them and say ‘I am concerned because you are concerned.'”
As a result, Henderson said, the college is planning to launch a new “diversity action plan” as soon as it’s approved by school officials.
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