At least three New Jersey universities have reported racist attacks during virtual Black History Month events.
Rutgers University, Rider University and the New Jersey Institute of Technology told CNN they are investigating racist incidents in which individuals interrupted virtual Black History Month meetings with racist remarks and imagery. It is unclear whether the incidents at the three universities are connected.
At Rutgers, “the most recent Zoom-bombing attack occurred during the Black History Month programs hosted by the Paul Robeson Cultural Center and the Center for Social Justice Education & LGBTQ Communities,” the school said in a statement to CNN.
In a letter to the Rutgers community, Rutgers-New Brunswick Chancellor Christopher J. Molloy said the university doesn’t want to give bigoted individuals a platform by providing details on the incident, but acknowledges “the harm done to Black and LGBTQ members” of the community to “affirm their pain.”
“Marginalized communities are too often forced to bear such hatred and navigate in spite of it, and moments like this cut and wound deeply,” he said.
In another incident at Rutgers, the Delta Iota Chapter of Black fraternity Alpha Phi Alpha said an attack on its February 11 event by unknown individuals with racially insensitive usernames and their cameras turned off included graphic racist imagery and music.
“At around 8:01 PM, one of the participants started screen sharing a video of a dead ape lying on the ground covered in blood, with a white man towering over it. Pictures of black bodies being covered in blood, severed and hung were also depicted, as a KKK song was played on loop, stating ‘Kill all Blacks; We will find you,’” the fraternity told CNN in an email.
At Rider University, a Black History Month “Galentine’s Day” themed event hosted by two Black sororities, also on February 11, was disrupted by several people using fake names who made “harassing, racist and derogatory remarks aimed at students,” university spokeswoman Kristine Brown told CNN.
“Racist and inappropriate images were drawn by hand on the screen,” said Brown. “As soon as the incident was reported to the University, Rider immediately began an investigation, which is still currently underway. Rider also reported the incident to the FBI Internet Crime Complaint Center IC3, Zoom’s Trust and Security Team, and our local law enforcement agency the Lawrence Township Police Department.”
The New Jersey Institute of Technology said that during a virtual Black History Month opening session event attended by Black student organizations on February 3, an individual used the n-word repeatedly in the event’s chat.
“This conduct was unacceptable, and the individual was immediately removed from the event by our information technology staff,” said school spokesman Matthew Golden. “It is difficult, if not impossible to determine the identity of the person who committed this act, but if identified, that person will face disciplinary action.”