Students at Harvard University are denouncing an alleged hate crime at the school after strips of black tape were found over portraits of Harvard Law School (HLS)’s black professors Thursday morning. But there are several aspects of the supposed “hate crime” that suggest it could be a big hoax.
HLS’s Wasserstein Hall includes a small portrait of every single tenured faculty member at the school, but Thursday morning small black strips of tape were found covering the faces of every black professor’s portrait. The vandalism was discovered sometime before 8:30 a.m., when the first notices of the vandalism began appearing on Facebook and Twitter:
In response to yesterday's protests, cowards have covered the faces of Harvard Law's Black professors w/ black tape. pic.twitter.com/IuNd9ckucj
— the other one (@imfromraleigh) November 19, 2015
The strips of tape are already being actively denounced as a savage hate crime by Harvard students.
“This morning at Harvard Law School we woke up to a hate crime,” writes HLS student Michele Hall on the website Blavity. “The portraits of black professors, the ones that bring me and so many other black students feelings of pride and promise, were defaced. Their faces were covered with a single piece of black tape, crossing them out of Harvard Law School’s legacy of legal scholarship. Their faces were slashed through, X-ing them out, marking them as maybe unwanted or maybe unworthy or maybe simply too antithetical to the legacy of white supremacy on which Harvard Law School has been built.”
HLS dean Martha Minow immediately called a meeting of the school’s students and staff to discuss the incident, and announced it is under police investigation.
While activists on Facebook and Twitter are quickly denouncing the tape as a sign of the hate that lurks beneath the surface at Harvard, the possibility must be considered that the hate crime is a hoax or false flag. Bogus hate crimes have occurred with some frequency on college campuses.
One particularly noteworthy red flag is that the black tape used to deface the portraits appears to be identical to tape that was recently used by activists affiliated with the Royall Must Fall group protesting against HLS’s current seal (which is taken from the coat of arms of the slaveholding family that endowed HLS’s first professorship).
Royall Must Fall claims the tape is identical because it was used as a calculated retaliation against their earlier protest.
“What was an obvious educational art action placed on campus was retaliated against,” the group says on Facebook. “Cowards used the black tape from the educational art and defaced the portraits of the Black professors at HLS.”
But another possibility, of course, is that the same roll of tape was used in the first place. The Harvard Law Record’s write-up indicates the taped-over seal was noticed the same morning as the taped over faces, suggesting that the alleged hate criminal either retaliated extremely quickly, or else was responding to something so obscure it had gone unnoticed thus far.
Efforts to contact Royall Must Fall for more information were unsuccessful.
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