Last February, Oberlin College in Ohio ground to a halt, canceling classes and holding campus-wide meetings when a figure wearing a Ku Klux Klan hood was spotted near the college's African Heritage House following weeks of racist signs being posted on campus. As it turned out, the shadowy figure was just a person wearing a blanket. But the signs and graffiti were part of a strange, month-long racist hoax perpetrated by Oberlin students, and documented in a thoroughly bizarre police report we recently obtained.
According to the report, the signs (“Martin Looter Koon Jr., with a swastika, commie?”) were thrown up by a pair of unidentified students simply to get a rise out of their liberal peers. On February 9, they hung anti-Semitic signs in a classroom building:
On February 12, they targeted various Oberlin professors:
A few days later, more signs appeared in a residence hall:
(In an interview with Oberlin’s police department, one of the students admitted to fabricating a “a giant Nazi flag as a joke to troll people” with the help of another student.)
On February 27—nearly a week before the “KKK hood” incident—Oberlin College campus security caught the trolls in action. One of them provided this explanation for hanging several signs targeting Muslims:
I printed about 1,000 anti-Islam fliers to put up as a joke/troll (to get an overreaction, in the context of the racist crap that has been going on on campus). I met ████ along the way in the Science Center and kept posting them. I thought the reaction to the racist garbage was irrational and out of proportion. It seems clear to me that whatever racist scum or Nazi did that shit, he was just looking for a big reaction. People need to take everything with a grain of salt, and decide what kinds of things are worth engaging with and which are not. Instead of holding a sit-in, a march/rally, and a community meeting, if I were in control, I would have torn any Nazi or hate speech down and told people that it is wrong to put shit like that up. Whether the people doing the racist hate speech are racist assholes, or just trolls, they clearly are just seeking attention. Don’t give them what they want, and they will stop. I put out these fliers to get a similar over-reaction to prove this point.
The names of the students are redacted from the police report, and without them it’s difficult to understand which student did what, and when. However, the conservative website the Daily Caller, which first reported on the police report, identified the pair as two male students, one an Obama supporter. But the website declined to specify how it determined the suspects’ identities. When asked, editor-in-chief Tucker Carlson told Gawker that “the official documents do name [the names published by the Daily Caller], just as we reported. We never described our sources, and therefore did not represent them.” When asked to supply said documents, Carlson wrote back: “Sure. But first please send me your last four tax returns and the results of a recent blood test.” Without those supporting documents, it’s impossible to tell who did what.
According the OPD report, the Oberlin City Prosecutor declined to press charges.
The full police report is posted below.
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