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Racist Letters at College Being Investigated

May 10, 1990|JULIO MORAN | TIMES STAFF WRITER

Santa Monica College campus police are trying to determine the source of racist letters placed in the campus mailboxes of seven black staff members, college officials said.

College President Richard L. Moore said this week that it would be inappropriate for him to discuss the matter while the investigation was under way. The letters were sent in early April, and Moore said he hopes the investigation will conclude by the end of this month.

In a memo to the college staff, Moore said he was "profoundly saddened and angry" by the incident.

The racist letters were sent to seven staff members who had sent out flyers inviting other black faculty, administrators and staff members to attend an informal meeting at a nearby restaurant to explore ways to encourage the hiring of more black staff members and the recruitment of more black students.

Currently, about 12.3% of the faculty, administrators and staff are black, as is about 10% of the student body of 20,000, according to college spokesman Bruce Smith.

The staff members who received the letters in their campus mailboxes had been listed on the flyers as contacts. The only people with access to the mailboxes are other staff members.

The recipients' names were typewritten on the envelopes. Inside the envelopes were altered copies of the original flyers inviting "Caucasians" to attend an "all-white mixer" at a local bar. The flyer had a drawing of a burning cross and hooded people, both symbols of the Ku Klux Klan.

"Let me tell you that threats of violence, whether premeditated by racial hatred or by any form, will not be tolerated by me, this college community, nor our society," Moore said in his memo to the staff. "I accept these threats as charged against me and this college."

Moore said in his memo that he directed campus police to find the letter writer.

Campus Police Chief Andy Campbell could not be reached for comment. The college newspaper, the Corsair, recently reported that campus police had found fingerprints on the letters but did not provide further information.

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