Swastika graffiti found in one of UI's underground tunnels

Swastika graffiti found in one of UI's underground tunnels

URBANA — A University of Illinois employee found a swastika painted in a basement tunnel on campus, the same week a white-supremacist group posed in front of the Alma Mater.

According to a UI police report, the swastika was found in a tunnel between the Roger Adams and Noyes laboratories east of the Quad.

"We are continuing to investigate this as a criminal-damage incident," said Pat Wade, spokesman for the police department. "Although we investigate these as criminal-damage incidents, we certainly recognize that the content of the message can create an environment where our campus community members feel targeted or unsafe.

"We are here to help foster a welcoming campus community, and we always encourage anyone who feels unsafe to let us know so we can address their concerns."

He said that tunnel wasn't in a restricted area and is used for passage between Noyes Laboratory, the Chemistry Annex and Roger Adams Laboratory.

Earlier this week, a group called Identity Evropa said its Illinois chapter visited the Urbana campus.

The Southern Poverty Law Center classifies it as a hate group that recruits on college campuses to form a "fashionable new face of white nationalism."

Its founder cited David Duke, a former Grand Wizard of the Ku Klux Klan, as an inspiration and helped plan the 2017 Charlottesville, Va., rally where a woman was killed, according to the SPLC.

The group posted pictures Monday on Twitter of three people in front of the Alma Mater statue holding flags with the group's logo.

The group also posted a picture of a poster tacked to a campus bulletin board with the tagline: "European Roots American Greatness."

Wade said he has no way of knowing if the visit and posters are connected with the painted swastika.

"I'm aware of the posters only because I saw the social media posts myself, but that is not something that has been reported to UIPD, so I don't have any more information on those than you do," Wade said. "Without knowing who is behind the two incidents, it would be impossible to say whether they are directly related."

The incidents come a month after more than 200 stickers from a white-nationalist organization called Patriot Front were plastered on lampposts and signs around the UI campus.

The SPLC considers Patriot Front a hate group as well.

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