Confederate Flags and Cotton Balls Found on American University Campus

September 27, 2017 Updated: September 27, 2017

American University has opened an investigation after confederate flags with cotton balls attached to them were found pinned to bulletin boards around the school’s Washington, D.C. campus on Tuesday night, Sept. 26, the same night the school unveiled plans for a center devoted to anti-racism.

The 10 flags with cotton balls—being interpreted as symbols of racism and the country’s segregated past—have created unease in the community that earlier this year found bananas tied up in noose-like strings with the initials of a predominantly black sorority on them.

“We are well aware this act occurred the same evening Dr. Ibram Kendi presented ‘A Vision for Equality,’ an introduction to the Antiracist Research and Policy Center,” said Vice President of Campus Life, Fanta Aw, in a statement. “We will not be deterred by this cowardly attempt at intimidation.”

A white man in a pink shirt, white construction gloves, a hard hat, and a reflector vest who was captured on campus security camera video is being treated as the only suspect in the incident.

Campus police said in a crime alert that the man appeared to be in his 40’s, and asked anyone with information to contact them.

“This is not a person of interest. The person in the photographs, in the video… is the suspect who committed this crime,” Assistant Vice President for American University Police and Emergency Management, Phil Morse, was quoted on Twitter as saying.

The flags were posted in three separate locations on campus and seemed to be covering posters that celebrated the campus’s diversity.

On them were written “Huzza for Dixie” and “I wish I was in the land of Dixie,” a reference to the unofficial anthem of the Confederacy.

“The significance of this occurring as our country continues to struggle with its history of white supremacy also cannot be ignored,” American University’s student government said in a statement. “The AUSG executive board lends total support to the American University Police Department as they begin the investigation to bring whoever committed this act to justice.”


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