Oberlin authorities investigate hate-related incidents, man wearing KKK attire near college campus

OBERLIN, Ohio - Local law enforcement agencies are looking for a suspicious man reportedly seen wearing a hood and robe that resembled a KKK outfit on the Oberlin College campus.

The man was last seen between South and Edmonia Lewis Center and in the vicinity of African Heritage House on the campus.

Both campus police and the Oberlin Police Department are investigating the report.

As a result, Oberlin College officials suspended formal classes and all non-essential activities for Monday.

Sunceray Tabler is thankful her boyfriend was there when she spotted an unidentified man running across Oberlin College campus dressed in Ku-Klux-Klan attire.

 "As a student I've never even just encountering that kind of racism in my life that is something that has never happened," she said.

Even more frightening is Tabler normally walks the same path back to her dorm.

Students said this incident was just one of many in recent weeks.

"A water fountain vandalized with the words whites only, or more uses of the n-word vandalized on walls, swastikas," explained senior Miguel Amaguana.

Monday begins annual Peace Week at the college. But school officials are asking that the community use this incident to make a strong statement about the values that the school cherishes, specifically inclusion, respect for others, and a strong and abiding faith in the worth of every person.

They're also asking students, faculty, and staff to participate in the planned events for Monday.

"When faced with difficult situations, Oberlin has consistently met the challenges and affirmed its commitment to the highest  quality of education and the noblest aspirations of its community members. We believe that today's events and our ongoing work and discussions will strengthen Oberlin and will strengthen us all," said Oberlin President Marlin Krislov in a message on the college's website.

The day's activities include:

12 p.m.: Lord Lounge, African Heritage House teach-in led by Africana Studies Department
2 p.m.: Wilder Bowl Demonstration of Solidarity
3:30 p.m.: Finney Chapel Community Convocation: "We Stand Together" (Previously scheduled for Wednesday, March 6 at noon)

The Oberlin community is invited to attend these events.

According to the Gawker website, this is the culmination of a month of racist, homophobic, and anti-Semitic graffiti being discovered on buildings around the liberal arts college's campus.

They said this is the latest in a string of hate-related incidents at Oberlin, beginning with the Feb. 9 vandalism of Black History Month posters, in which someone changed the word "black" to a derogatory word.

Oberlin Freshman Jonah Glasgold said this is not what he expected coming to a school with such a rich history entrenched in inclusion.

"You think okay, you're coming to one of the most liberal places in the country and you're excited about that cause you don't think there's going to be anything like this and it's disappointing," he said.

Students are raising their voices against those seeking to deliver this kind of hurt.

"I feel like we're sending a message that we're all here together and we're going to stand against whatever this is," said Glasgold.
 
"I think that's a terrible thing because this school is supposed to be about acceptance for everyone," said Megan Smith.

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