The University of California, Berkeley administration released a statement Sunday about the controversial effigies of black lynching victims found on campus this weekend, calling the images “deeply disturbing” regardless of their intention.
According to the Associated Press, the effigies were discovered hours before the start of a demonstration against police brutality organised by the campus’ black student union. The effigies were hanging from Sather Gate — the symbolic entranceway into the school — and potentially another, unconfirmed, part of campus.
It is not known who was behind the effigies, or what the intention of the figures were.
Below is an image of one of the lynched figures on Sather Gate. The cardboard figure reads “I Can’t Breathe,” a reference to the last words of Eric Garner:
According to student newspaper The Daily Californian, another cutout at Sather Gate “depicted Laura Nelson, a black woman who was kidnapped and lynched with her son in 1911 in Oklahoma.”
Dear campus community,
On Saturday morning, two hanging effigies were left on Sather Gate with reports of a third elsewhere on campus. We are not sure about the intent of these effigies as one contained the words “Can’t Breathe,” but nonetheless, the imagery was deeply disturbing.
The African American community has historically faced the terrorism of lynchings used in an attempt to suppress and control. While we do not know the intent of the effigies, the impact that it has had on our campus community is undeniable.
No individual or group has claimed responsibility. If you were responsible for this, we invite you to come forward.
We must all be vigilant to ensure that we are creating a campus environment that allows for the free exchange of ideas and doesn’t frighten or intimidate people. Our campus climate reminds us that we still have great deal of work to do to make this campus a welcoming place for all members.
We have been and will continue to work with the student leadership, the Black Student Union and others on campus staff and groups to create opportunities to address the concerns and develop a plan for improving our campus climate, not only related to these effigies but also the events of the past several weeks.
We recognise the stress and anxiety that current events are generating for the members of our extended community, and have faith that we will emerge stronger and more unified, precisely through our commitment to realising the inclusion and justice that have long been the promise of this institution and this country.
Chancellor Nicholas B. Dirks
Executive Vice Chancellor and Provost, Claude Steele
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