A University of Oklahoma student has been temporarily suspended on suspicion of sending racist social media messages, including threats of lynchings, to black freshman at the University of Pennsylvania, the two universities said on Saturday.
The messages were sent to more than 150 students at the University of Pennsylvania, President-elect Donald Trump’s alma mater, and included racial slurs and pictures of African-Americans being hanged, students told local media.
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“This is absolutely vile material and completely offensive to everyone on our campus,” University of Pennsylvania President Amy Gutmann said in a statement. “This is simply deplorable.” University of Oklahoma President David Boren notified Gutmann that his school had identified a suspect, who has not been named.
“The university has already determined from its preliminary inquiry that there’s a basis for a temporary suspension of the student under our student code while we continue to gather all of the facts,” Boren said in a statement. The messages, including some sent from a source called “Trump’s Disciples,” came as civil rights groups said racial and religious minorities have been targeted nationwide after the election of Trump as president.
They have said his divisive campaign rhetoric emboldened a few supporters to spread racist messages, although Trump has called for unity since his election and denounced white supremacist groups that have backed him. The Council on American-Islamic Relations, a civil rights group, said there have been a string of threats and attacks on American Muslims after the election, and have called on Trump to speak out on the incidents.
The Trump campaign has not responded to requests for comment. During the campaign, Trump called for banning Muslims from entering the country for security reasons. In one incident at the University of Michigan, police said they were investigating a man suspected of threatening to set a woman on fire unless she removed her hijab. She complied, the university’s Division of Public Safety and Security said.
Since his election this week, thousands have gathered at protests in several major US cities to rally against the president-elect, who they say will threaten civil and human rights.
Trump supporters have also taken to social media to say they have been targeted and assaulted by supporters of Democratic candidate Hillary Clinton.