Harvard Police Calling Marred Portraits a ‘Hate Crime’

Steve Annear, Boston Globe, November 19, 2015

Harvard University police are treating the discovery of strips of tape placed across photographs of black professors outside of a lecture hall as an act of hate, officials from the university said Thursday.

In an e-mailed statement, Martha Minow, dean of Harvard Law School, said police are investigating who defaced portraits of black faculty members displayed at Wasserstein Hall.

“The Harvard University Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime,” she said. “Expressions of hatred are abhorrent, whether they be directed at race, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, religion, or any other targets of bigotry.”

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Images of the marred portraits were shared on Twitter by Jonathan Wall, a third-year law student at the school.

Wall said the pictures were sent to him from a classmate earlier that morning.

“I was shocked. I was shocked, and I was obviously disgusted. Especially because it seems to be in response to yesterday’s day of activism,” said Wall.

Harvard students rallied Wednesday at the school’s Science Center Plaza before marching to Porter Square, where they joined with Tufts University students. The protest was in solidarity with students of color across the country who say they are fighting racial injustices at their campuses.

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The dean later convened a Town Hall-style meeting with law school students and staff for over an hour Thursday to discuss the discovery of the tape.

“Here at HLS, we are focused on efforts to improve our community, examining structures that may contribute to negative experiences of any members of our community, and pursuing opportunities where the School can both change and support change,” she said in a statement.

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Michele Hall, a second-year student at the law school, spoke out against the act of vandalism, and condemned the person responsible.

“I’m disgusted and outraged that it happened, but I’m also not surprised,” said Hall. “Microaggressions and macroagressions happen every day, and that’s the reality of being a student of color at Harvard and any other institution.”

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