A man has been found guilty of a series of racially-charged bouts of vandalism that caused much disturbance in the campus of Salisbury University, Maryland, throughout the past academic year, according to local authorities.
The SU campus community has experienced “a great deal of fear” since October last year as racist graffiti messages continued to be discovered in academic buildings. These incidents prompted the university to hire a new associate vice president for its Office of Diversity and Inclusion this April, amid campus closure due to public health emergency. Local law enforcement agencies, as well as the FBI, participated in the investigation.
We have been made aware of an incident that has been reported in Henson Hall. We will update you as updates are made available. Please be advised the second image contains racist language. pic.twitter.com/5HLLd42ciw
— Salisbury U NAACP (@NAACP_SU) February 19, 2020
The individual involved in those vandalism cases was found to be 54-year-old black man Jerome K. Jackson from Princess Anne, Maryland, according to the Office of the State’s Attorney for Wicomico County. Jackson was alleged to have “maliciously defaced property of Salisbury University while exhibiting racial animosity” in a manner that is “commonly referred to as a Hate Crime.”
The statement makes no mention of what group the racial animosity was directed at, but an earlier statement from the University said the graffiti “frightened members of our campus community, particularly Black and Brown students, faculty and staff.”
One of the graffiti messages circulating on social media invoked images of lynching black Americans.
Jackson pleaded guilty on June 12 based on a plea agreement, admitting responsibility for every one of the “racial and sometimes gender related discriminatory graffiti” found on SU campus in the 2019-2020 academic year. It comes with a punishment of 18 months of jail time, as well as a $494 restitution to cover the costs associated with removing the graffiti from the university’s property.
“I commend the SUPD for its diligence in the investigation, which included combing through an enormous amount of evidence and information,” wrote SU’ president Charles A. Wight in a statement announcing the latest development of the vandalism case.
“Hate and discrimination have no place on this campus, and neither do ignorance or apathy as they relate to these issues,” he continued. “These incidents were targeted, but they affect us all. SU’s campus culture is all of our responsibility, and throughout this difficult time, our students, faculty, staff, alumni and community supporters have made one thing very clear: SU unites and stands together.”
In a desperate 2016 incident, a group of unnamed African-American students were held responsible for a racist drawing on SU campus that depicted the lynching of a crying stick figure, according to a USA Today report at the time. The drawing, that included the hashtag “#whitepower,” was found on a whiteboard in a library.