“This morning, we became aware of flyers that were posted on our campus that support the notion of white supremacy,” Noland wrote in a message to campus students and employees later posted on ETSU’s Twitter account. “The messages of these flyers are part of a coordinated campaign targeting institutions of higher education across the country and do not appear to be specific to our institution.”
Some of the flyers, however, were posted directly over and adjacent to literature advertising tonight’s appearance of Opal Tometi, a Nigerian-American writer, political strategist and community organizer who co-founded Black Lives Matter, a controversial organization in racial justice politics. Those flyers included such statements as “IT’S OKAY TO BE WHITE,” while others promoted the Traditionalist Workers Party and the League of the South, white nationalist organizations. Noland’s statement said no information was available regarding who posted them.
“While we are a campus where the difference of opinion and civil discourse are respected, inciting hate is not tolerated,” Noland wrote. “Such behavior goes against our institutional values where people are treated with dignity and respect.
“We will continue to foster a campus of inclusion where the constructive exchange of ideas is respected.”
Beginning at 7:30 tonight, Tometi will present a lecture at the D.P. Culp University Center. Tometi will discuss how she helped start the movement using online platforms and social media strategy, as well as the motivations behind it.
Today’s situation was not the first time a Black Lives Matter event brought concerns about racism to the campus. In September 2016, a now-former ETSU student showed up at BLM rally wearing a gorilla mask and carrying bananas tied by a rope, which was perceived by some in attendance as nooses. Tristan Rettke was arrested and later indicted on civil rights intimidation charges. His case is making its way through the Criminal Court system.