Officials in Salem are searching for the person responsible for vandalizing the Salem State University baseball field with blatantly racist and pro-Donald Trump graffiti on Friday.
“Trump #1 Whites Only USA” and “Whites #1” were found spray-painted on benches and a fence surrounding the field Friday morning, according to photos from the scene. Another bench had graffiti that used the n-word and said “DIE.”
Two days after the graffiti was found, it remained an “active criminal investigation,” Salem State president John Keenan said in a statement Sunday.
If a student is found to be responsible, Keenan said, the punishment would be “immediate dismissal from the university and referral to the Commonwealth for potential criminal prosecution.”
In an earlier statement, on Friday, Keenan condemned the “deeply troubling” language, saying it has no place on campus. Salem State is a public university with about 9,000 students and is located a mile from downtown Salem.
Salem Mayor Kim Driscoll posted a message about the vandalism on Facebook on Saturday, writing in a post that the graffiti at her alma mater made her “sad, angry, and bewildered.”
“The Salem State that I know is the place where you take full ownership of your success,” she wrote. “It’s not a place that will accept hateful acts of bigotry. This does not define my Salem State.”
Neither Keenan nor Driscoll specifically referenced Trump in their statements condemning the white supremacist statements. Their offices could not be reached for comment Sunday evening.
Trump’s campaign and election has been accompanied by a rise in hate crimes nationwide, FBI statistics show. Critics see Trump as the driving force for these racist acts, due to his charged rhetoric surrounding immigrants and refugees, and his hestitancy to condemn white supremacy.J.D. Capelouto can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org. Follow him on Twitter @jdcapelouto.