December 13, 2018

Nazi Flag Painted on N.C. University’s Free Expression Tunnel

Screenshot from Facebook.

A Nazi flag, as well as other neo-Nazi propaganda, was spray-painted on Appalachian State University’s Free Expression Tunnel and first discovered on Sunday.

The university’s Alpha Epsilon Pi (AEPi) chapter found the graffiti that morning; the chapter’s president, Koby Ellick, shared a photo of the graffiti on social media before students painted over it.

The graffiti featured a Nazi flag; above were the words “Heil Hitler” and to its right were the words “the Holocaust is a good thing” as well as a Star of David.

Posted by Watauga NAACP Branch on Monday, October 1, 2018

In response to the graffiti, the university’s Student Government Association (SGA) issued a statement that read that the tunnel “is not intended to cultivate a culture of hate – targeting students or individuals because of their identity, culture, profession, or expression.”

The statement added that certain forms of speech, such as defamation, are not protected under the First Amendment.

“As a public university, we are committed to protecting freedom of speech,” the statement read. “As members of the Appalachian community and contributors to campus culture, we are committed to ensuring that all people are welcomed and accepted on this campus.”

Megan Hayes, the associate vice chancellor and chief communications officer, told the Winston Salem-Journal that the university would be investigating the incident, but as of now they don’t who painted the Nazi graffiti.

The campus Hillel issued the following statement on Facebook:

North Carolina Hillel is deeply disturbed to learn that Nazi symbols and anti-Semitic language were painted on Appalachian State University’s free expression tunnel over the weekend. These words and images are incredibly painful and offensive to Jews and non-Jews alike, denigrating the memory of six million Jews and millions of other victims of the Nazis, and have no place on campus or anywhere in society.

We are working with University officials to ensure this matter is investigated and properly addressed to protect the safety and respect for all members of the campus Jewish community. Our staff are here to support any student or community member who has concerns or would like to discuss this issue.

Algemeiner’s Shiri Moshe noted that the Nazi graffiti was discovered a couple days before a 96-year-old Holocaust survivor spoke on campus on Tuesday.

The Appalachian, the university’s student newspaper, wrote on Oct. 3 that in response to the graffiti, as well as a white nationalist group’s recruiting banner being found on campus a year earlier, the paper will be involved in ProPublica’s “Documenting Hate” project.

“If you are a witness or victim of a hate incident, fill out the Documenting Hate form found under the news navigation header on our website,” the paper wrote. “Your story will be shared with ProPublica so that reporters and civil-rights groups can have a clearer picture of what’s happening and can reach out to you for more information.”