Last week I told you about a very dubious “hate crime” at Kansas State University that was being investigated by the FBI and local law enforcement in Manhattan, Kansas.
Yeah, it was a hoax, folks.
As we suspected, the owner of the vehicle, 21-year-old Dauntarius Williams, made the whole thing up.
BREAKING: Police: Man admits he put racist graffiti on his own car as prank, incident stirred tensions at Kansas State University.
— The Associated Press (@AP) November 6, 2017
The Riley County Police Department issued a news release on Monday saying Williams had admitted to investigators that he was responsible for the graffiti, saying that it was “just a Halloween prank that got out of hand.”
It didn’t seem like a prank, however, when he told the Kansas City Star that the vandalism was “sad, hurtful and disappointing.” Williams went on to tell the Star: “I was not raised to discriminate.”
It also didn’t seem like a prank to black student activists who used the incident to pressure the university into building a multicultural center.
Please read: update to the case involving racist graffiti found on a vehicle in Manhattan last week. pic.twitter.com/Z23xkBHeVv
— RCPD (@RileyCountyPD) November 6, 2017
Kansas State University spokesman Jeff Morris told the AP that the fake hate crime had a big impact on their daily lives: “We want to acknowledge that people felt anger and pain as a result of pictures and words that they saw,” he said. “Those are very real responses.”
Even though the anger and pain were in response to a hoax, “the university plans to continue its stepped up patrols and its review into whether more cameras are needed to enhance safety on campus.” Morris said, “The incident maybe wasn’t real — the emotions were.”
The most disgraceful part of this episode is how the Kansas City media — namely the Kansas City Star — fanned the flames of racial paranoia even after the story was falling apart. Their inflammatory article, headlined “Car Near K-State Painted with ‘Go Home Nigger Boy’ and Students Are Fed Up,” remained posted online even after it became known that the victim had lied to reporters about being a student at K State. After the school put out the word that they had no record of the individual, the paper updated with the information. But the jig should have been up and the Star should have, at the very least, changed that incendiary headline.
Instead, the Star continued to leave up a report that took an uncritical look at Williams’ allegations and gave voice to the racial fears of well-meaning black students.
The Kansas City media should have tread lightly on the implausible story, especially in the wake of another recent fake hate crime in Kansas City.
Last week the Kansas City Star trumpeted another alleged hate crime at a predominantly black church without adding any critical context. In that case, someone had started a small fire and defaced the front doors and windows with racist graffiti. The Star reported that the graffiti included “an ethnic slur directed at black people, the letters ‘KKK’ and what appeared to be an attempt at making a swastika.”
The culprit turned out to be a black church maintenance worker who was under the influence of drugs at the time, and who had faked the hate in an attempt to cover up his burglary.