Report: Clemson “hate crime” possibly a hoax

Clemson BananasA picture emerged last month showing rotting bananas hanging on a sign about African-Americans at Fort Hill. Clemson University is built on the land that was John C. Calhoun’s Fort Hill after a bequest from his son-in-law Thomas Green Clemson.

It’s not clear who put the bananas there, but outrage ensued, as an Associated Press story details. The AP story discusses a sit-in by black students and fthen tries to smear Clemson’s response to the Emmanuel AME shootings in Charleston by saying the wreaths honoring the victims were in a location that Tillman Hall could be seen from. There has been a move by some faculty to change the name of that building.

One of the organizers of the sit-in with See the Stripes even tried to say Dylann Roof, the Charleston shooter, would have been a Tillman supporter. The AP story by Jeffrey Collins only refers to one arrest. At the time, South Carolina blog FITSnews had little other details either.

However, last week FITSnews broached the subject of whether the whole thing was a hoax. A roundup of what happened:

There were sit-ins, hunger strikes, campus-wide protests, a Selma-style march, obligatory “arrests” – and of course doleful hand-wringing from the government-run institution’s “higher educrats.”  Also, fresh rounds of “diversity and inclusivity training” were mandated for all students and faculty.

It was a Mini-Missouri, in other words …

FITSnews also reported that there appeared to be a hoax and a cover-up going on:

Clemson University president James Clements claimed on April 11 that the school was “investigating” the banana-hanging incident – and university officials told local media that same day they hoped surveillance videos would assist them in identifying the guilty party.

Nearly three weeks later, though, nothing …

Some might use this opportunity to shoot the messenger of FITSnews and Will Folks. However, an editorial appeared on his site today by six Clemson students that examine the incident and investigation in-depth in their own words.

From the editorial

Since campus wide unrest was the direct result of the four bananas being hung it seems natural to ask who hung the bananas and what their motivations were.  The Clemson administration knows the answers to these questions, but has not revealed them.  The only thing most people on campus are aware of is the suspicious behavior and activity from the administration and the student protest leaders.

This leads to more questions than answers.

Some of the questions and issues they raise include:

  • When it was pointed out that the 5 students protesting were violating the code of conduct, the administration cited them for trespassing with rumors indicating it was all pre-planned after administrators met with the protesters.
  • Alesia Smith, who serves as director of the Office of Community and Ethical Standards on campus, is the mother of one of the Clemson 5 protesters while also being in charge of investigating them. According to the students writing the op-ed, she “refused to admit” there was a conflict of interest but then later said she had recused herself.
  • No charges have been brought against the known person who placed the bananas and no information on motive or any personally identifying information has been released. However, someone who posted a racist message to the Yik Yak app was publicly identified.
  • There are also questions about the picture itself.

The picture’s provenance and the chain of evidence are questioned by the students writing the editorial (emphasis added)

Finally, only one picture exists of the bananas at all.  Who took this picture?  When did the bananas come down?  Who took them down?  In the police report it is noted that an email was sent to the University police.  Who sent this email?  The individual who is cited in the school newspaper as taking the picture of the bananas, posted the picture two hours after the social media account of “See the Stripes”- the group that organized the Sikes Sit In protest – had posted the image to begin a viral hashtag campaign.

The six students call on Clemson administrators to act:

The university must act quickly and decisively to resolve these questions; they cannot remain silent any longer.  As students, we are hurt by this administration’s failure to protect our reputation, and we expect that they will do what is right and reveal the truth.

If it turns out that the person who placed the bananas did so with racist intentions, then he or she should be held responsible.  If this is not the case, then the administration has willingly participated in a smear campaign against the student body.  The administration must make right the lies that have been told, and make open the information which has been kept secret.

Of course, the only reason I’m writing this is a wave of fake hate crimes over the past few years.

Clemson Wouldn’t Be Only Recent “Hate Crime” Hoax

Most recently, students from the State University of New York at Albany were indicted for perpetrating a hoax. The women claimed they were assaulted by 10-12 white men hurling racial slurs at them on a bus. Hillary Clinton came to their defense on twitter. However, the audio and video from surveillance footage on the bus proved they made it all up. They were indicted and are now headed to court because they refused to accept a plea deal that would require their apologies.

Last month, a drawing of a noose with a racial slur and #whitepower hashtag was made on a whiteboard at Salisbury University on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. After investigating, it was determined the drawing was made by black students. Police declined to press charges.

According to one report, there have been over 100 hate crime hoaxes in the past 10 years. Another report details all the cases in 2015 alone.

Universities are good at covering things up and Clemson is no exception. This situation needs to be resolved publicly.

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton

Jeff Quinton is an award-winning blogger who has been aggregating and blogging since 1998. He has worked as a reporter, in government, and as a communications professional in Columbia, SC and Washington, DC.

Quinton is a native South Carolinian who has lived in Baltimore since 2006. He is a recent convert to the Catholic Church and is active in the Knights of Columbus. He has been involved in the pro-life movement nationally and locally since 2010.

Quinton is a veteran who served as an intelligence analyst in the Army National Guard. He is also an Eagle Scout.
Jeff Quinton