Two White Students Prosecuted In Missouri For Felony Littering
Print Friendly and PDF

Here's the crime—cotton balls were scattered in front of the Black Culture Center at the University of Missouri:

Here's the story:

University of Missouri administrators held a town hall meeting last night to discuss Friday’s racist display outside the campus black culture center.

And two white students have been arrested, since cotton reminds people of slavery, and therefore:

The Kansas City (Mo.) Star said Wednesday freshman Sean D. Fitzgerald, 19, and senior Zachary E. Tucker, 21, were arrested on charges of second-degree tampering for last week's incident.

Because authorities suspect the placement of the cotton balls on the center's lawn, walkway and bushes was racially motivated, the charges against the students were raised to Class D felony status.

Last Friday's incident took place during Black History Month [ note: I. E. in February] and prompted concerns about potentially intensified racial tensions at the university, the Star said.

Fitzgerald and Tucker are free on $4,500 bond each and are due to appear at a March 29 hearing.

University of Missouri Chancellor Brady Deaton [Email him]said both students will be temporarily suspended for the incident in Columbia, Mo.

Of course, what this actually is, hateful or not, is littering. ("Second-degree tampering," in Missouri law, is when you tamper "with property of another for the purpose of causing substantial inconvenience to that person or to another." I don't call a box of cotton balls substantial.)Unlike a display of a  burning cross or noose, it can't possibly be called a threat. That means that if it was motivated by hate, it's protected speech.

Print Friendly and PDF