DETROIT — A former Eastern Michigan University student accused of painting racist graffiti on campus says the charge makes no sense because he is African-American.

Eddie Curlin questions why he would have written anti-black messages, telling The Detroit News that he’s being made a scapegoat. The 29-year-old studied at the university from 2014 to 2016.

The graffiti was found painted on exterior building walls in September and October 2016. A racist message also was found in a men’s restroom last spring.

“What goal would that be for me to actually to say that about my own race?” Curlin said. “That makes zero sense.”

Curlin has been charged with malicious destruction of property, identity theft and using computers to commit a crime stemming from vandalism.

Police allege the suspect may not have been motivated by politics or race, but instead had “self-serving” motives. Beyond that they haven’t released details about the motive.

Some students believed that the culprit was a white supremacist, so the charges against Curlin were surprising and sparked debate on campus about race and crime.

“A lot of people blamed self-hatred within the black community,” said Yeliani Valdez, a 21-year-old senior who is Latina.

She noted that it happens in the Latino community as well.

“Sometimes we hate ourselves and try to disassociate from our communities to try and fit in,” she said.

Alex Buckle, a black 22-year-old sophomore who is studying neuroscience, said he’ll wait until Curlin is proven guilty to make a judgment.

“It’s very hard for an African-American male to go into society without being blamed,” he said. “Even I am suspect when I go into a store. … That’s the type of world we live in. It’s very cruel.”

Curlin is serving a prison sentence of up to five years for receiving stolen property in December 2015.

A hearing to determine if the graffiti case will go to trial is scheduled for Thursday.


Information from: The Detroit News, http://detnews.com/

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