Williams students admit to post-election graffiti

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WILLIAMSTOWN - Two Williams College students have claimed responsibility for racially charged graffiti and vandalism left behind in a campus building over the weekend.

According to a statement released by the college, the students - who were not identified - will face disciplinary action through the school.

On Saturday, paint or wood stain was found splattered along a staircase in Griffin Hall with the words "AMKKK KILL" scrawled along the wall.

The message was not intended to convey support for the Ku Klux Klan nor was it intended to be a threat, according to the statement, signed by Williams College President Adam Falk, Vice President for Institutional Diversity and Equity Leticia S.E. Haynes, Vice President for Campus Life, Steve Klass and Dean Marlene Sandstrom,

"The students told (Campus Security Services) that they had committed the vandalism to bring attention to the effects of the presidential election on many in our community," part of the statement reads.

"We understand it was meant to signify AmeriKKKa, a spelling of America that references racism in our society," according to the college.

The students informed the school they alone were responsible for the vandalism and graffiti.

"Their actions did much more than damage property; they harmed our entire community and caused considerable fear, among students in particular."

"We are deeply distressed that anyone in our community would feel compelled to express themselves in such a destructive and harmful way," Falk said. "We understand that many continue to experience anxiety and fear in the wake of the election. Acts such as this vandalism are not the answer, and they will not be tolerated in our community."

The college thanked its security services for a "tireless and thorough investigation and all those who assisted.

The vandalism was discovered amid a rise in reports of harassment of minorities, women and LGBTQ people across the country, since the election, including reports of threats, assaults and graffiti laden with swastikas and, in some instances, pro-Donald Trump messages.

The Southern Poverty Law Center, a nonprofit organization that tracks hate groups and hate crimes, has reported at least 300 incidents of hate incidents and crimes since Election Day.

In response, Attorney General Maura Healy established a statewide hotline for reporting such incidents.

"There are reports from around the country following the election that people have been targeted and subjected to conduct that imperils safety and civil rights," Healy's statement reads. "Such conduct has no place in Massachusetts."

Healy said any resident who has witnessed or experienced bias-motivated threats, harassment or violence can call the hotline at 1-800-994-3228 or fill out a civil rights complaint form at www.mass.gov/ago or via its social media presence on Facebook and Twitter.

Reach staff writer Bob Dunn at 413-496-6249 or @BobDunn413 on Twitter.


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