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RACIALLY MOTIVATED HATE SPEECH HAS BECOME A PRESSING ISSUE ON THE UNIVERSITY OF IOWA CAMPUS. FLYERS CONTAINING NAZI PROPAGANDA HAVE APPEARED ON CULTURAL CENTERS, CARS, AND IN LIBRARIES. PERPETRATORS HAVE NOW TURNED TO VANDALIZING CAMPUS ARTWORK, AND THE ARTISTS ARE SPEAKING OUT. DITV REPORTER MIKHAYLA HUGHES-SHAW HAS THE STORY.
On the west side of the University of Iowa campus, students walk daily on this trail to get to class. Many also pass through this tunnel – full of artwork, highlighting the diversity of Latin American cultures.
Student artist Cassandra Garza shared this photo on twitter of the mural’s progress, but posted a video on March 20th showing damage caused by vandals.
The mural was ruined by nazi propaganda and other hateful symbols and phrases. Now, hidden by white paint.
Across the Iowa River is a similar tunnel on the east side of campus, and an artist with a similar story.
Melissa Ortiz painted this mural in May 2017 to celebrate the National Pan Hellenic Council, which was created by historically black fraternities and sororities. Ortiz shared that her piece, too, fell victim to hate.
Melissa Ortiz: “The AKA on the shoulder, someone engraved a swatstika. So, you know, it’s, it’s very upsetting.”
White paint now covers the damage, and Ortiz’s hard work.
The murals are apart of a project sponsored by the University of Iowa student government to celebrate underrepresented identities on campus. Out of seven artists picked, o ver half of their pieces have been vandalized.
“University of Iowa officials responded to these actions responded to these actions, saying that the university does not support any kind of hat speech. Some students are really upset by what has been happening, and they’re asking for more security so that this does not happen again.”
The student government presidential elect Hira Mustafa took to twitter after the incident, saying that the school should purchase security cameras.
The UISG senators who founded this project shared that this idea has it’s limitations.
Abby Simon: “Most likely these are not feasible in the location, the tunnels are pretty isolated, so setting up cameras would be really challenging.”
Sanchez said that it is about much more than just security.
Sanchez: “A culture change does need to continue to happen. The university does do a lot, and I think that we should recognize it, but it’s not perfect.”
As for the tunnels, their damaged art still remains. Reporting from the UI campus, this is Mikhayla Hughes-Shaw with DITV.