‘These are troubling times:’ Racist flyers hit California campus, school leader says

Racist, anti-immigrant flyers have appeared on a California campus as the school year begins — a “hate incident” the university’s leader described as part of a nationwide trend.

“These are troubling times in which we live,” Mary Papazian, president of San Jose State University, said in a statement on Tuesday. “Rarely does a month go by, it seems, without another community in the U.S. or abroad being ripped apart by a mass shooting, a hate crime or a tragic incident of some sort.”

Papazian said the California university “recently discovered fliers and inappropriate items that contained racist and anti-immigrant discriminatory content at various campus locations. These items were removed immediately because they violated our time, place and manner regulations.” She said the flyers and other items were found at “other campuses nationwide.”

Papazian said the school “will denounce the actions of white supremacist and white nationalist hate groups,” but will “not suppress freedom of speech—to do so would negate those same core values and our mandates as a public institution of higher learning.”

NBC reporter Scott Budman wrote on Twitter that “a group called the American Identity Movement is claiming to be responsible for flyers (this one says ‘Diversity Destroys Nations’) put around” campus.

Kathleen Wong(Lau), the school’s chief diversity officer, said university police believe the flyers appeared late on Aug. 11 or early on Aug. 12, because they were discovered in the early morning hours, according to the Spartan Daily, a student publication.

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“It’s frightening to feel like you’re not welcome at your own school, in your own community and city,” said Associated Students Director of Intercultural Affairs Mira Mustafa, Spartan Daily reported. “But I also think that it reminds people that there is strength in numbers and they should reach out to others around them to combat these issues.”

Just last week, a similar incident roiled Rice University in Houston, Texas, when offensive flyers reading “Send them back!” appeared on campus, McClatchy news group reported. Those flyers caricatured freshman Democratic congresswomen in the so-called “Squad” — a group of lawmakers President Trump has told to “go back and help fix the totally broken and crime infested places from which they came.” All four are women of color and U.S. citizens, with three of the four born in the country.

According to the Anti-Defamation League, flyers similar to those found at Rice were reportedly put up by a masked man at churches and synagogues in Seattle earlier this month.

“Our community will not tolerate bigotry, hatred, discrimination and other forms of social violence against individuals or groups on the basis of their race, ethnicity, immigrant status, religion or other identities,” Papazian said.

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Jared Gilmour is a McClatchy national reporter based in San Francisco. He covers everything from health and science to politics and crime. He studied journalism at Northwestern University and grew up in North Dakota.