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Students protest alleged act of hate at Wayne State University now under police investigation

Posted at 5:46 PM, Mar 10, 2021
and last updated 2021-03-10 18:49:49-05

DETROIT (WXYZ) — A couple of hundred students and supporters at Wayne State University took to the street in front of Atchison Hall where at least three acts of hate targeted a minority student.

A YouTube video shows how the door into a student’s dorm room was egged. On the door were Black Lives Matter stickers and an LGBT Pride flag.

Zoriana Martinez was the target of the act of hate. She was in the crowd in the protest and tells 7 Action News, “I hope that it was worth all the noise we’ve been making because they picked the wrong person to mess with honestly.”

WSU officials say they won’t tolerate this and an active police investigation is underway. Wayne State Police Chief Anthony Holt tells 7 Action News they have interviewed the students on the floor, they are getting tips to a hotline and they have asked Martinez if she has had any disputes with fellow students. There is limited access to student housing with COVID safety protocols. There are no surveillance cameras on residential floors, only in doorways into the buildings.

The organizer of the protest is Jeremiah Wheeler who says they are aware of the police investigation but adds, “We’re here because one of our peers one of our friends a part of our family has been violated. And nothing has been done to right the wrong.”

Martinez says the turnout at the protest makes her feel, “Amazing. It makes me feel like people are hearing me people are hearing other students like me other black students and that they want to see change.”

The full statement from WSU says:

Recently, a student in Atchison Hall was a victim of two acts of vandalism in which their door was egged. The student felt these incidents targeted postings on their residence hall room door. This behavior is unacceptable, and our Wayne State community expects better from its members.

We are very sorry that this happened, and the university staff is treating these incidents seriously. Contrary to views expressed in social media, the university has been actively involved from the beginning in addressing these incidents, and a police investigation is ongoing. University staff are doing all they can to ensure this student feels safe and supported. The student’s immediate housing situation has been resolved consistent with the student’s request.

After each incident, the door was cleaned, and to support the student’s safety, they were offered temporary or permanent relocation, which they declined. The student’s move off campus was voluntary, and in no respect were they forcibly removed by the university.

The residence hall’s resident advisor and community director worked together to send messages to residents stating that any acts of vandalism or threats to members of our community will not be tolerated, as Wayne State prides itself on its support of diversity. The message also encouraged everyone to act with kindness toward one another, and advised anyone who felt threatened by the incident to contact their resident advisor.

As stated, Wayne State University Police Department were contacted and are conducting a thorough, ongoing investigation. Appropriate action will be taken by the university if those responsible for these acts can be identified.

While the reason for the vandalism remains unknown, a member of our community experienced hurt and hate. Wayne State has zero tolerance for acts of hate toward anyone for any reason, including race, religion, ethnic background, sexual orientation, or other identities.