Black congressmen are calling for a federal civil rights investigation after students stumbled upon bananas hanging from nooses at American University.
The bananas were discovered tied to trees Monday and scrawled with the words “AKA Free” on the first full day Taylor Dumpson took over as student president. Dumpson belongs to the historically black frat Alpha Kappa Alpha (AKA), the Associated Press reports.
“I regret this happened, apologize to everyone offended, and state emphatically that this incident does not reflect what American University truly is,” American University President Neil Kerwin said in a statement.
Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, along with other black congressmen, called for Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos and Attorney General Jeff Sessions to launch a federal civil rights investigation Thursday and denounce the bananas.
“What happened at American University is tragic. A young woman’s historic achievement has been clouded by hatred and bigotry,” said Democratic Rep. Alma Adams. “This incident is just the latest in a string of atrocities sweeping our nation. It’s not a coincidence since President Trump’s election that we’ve experienced a wave of intolerance and divide.”
The congressmen want President Donald Trump to comment on the issue, as well.
Appearing alongside congressmen outside the Capitol on Thursday, Dumpson said she hopes the bananas can be a “catalyst for change.”
“At the end of the day, this isn’t just AU. This isn’t just about me. This is a broader issue that impacts everyone,” Dumpson said. “As a community, as a nation, we are never going to get anywhere if we do not talk about the uncomfortable truths that lie ahead. We are not in a post-racial society, unfortunately.”
Dumpson has stated she is considering transferring from American University.
The identity of the banana perpetrator is unknown, but the university has released surveillance footage of the person dressed in all black and is offering a $1,000 reward for more information.
The FBI has joined the investigation to assist American University in obtaining more information.
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