Image via AP

Police at American University in Washington, DC, are asking the public for help after bananas were found hanging from nooses around campus along with notes targeting a historically black sorority.

According to a notice circulated to the campus community, the bananas were found in three separate places on campus, and were marked with the letters AKA, believed to be an abbreviation for Alpha Kappa Alpha, which describes itself as “The oldest Greek-letter organization established in America by Black college women.”

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Pictures of the bananas were shared on social media, prompting immediate calls for action in the face of what appeared to be an overtly racist threat.

Last year, two American University students—both black women—said they were similarly harassed, with bananas being thrown at them, or left outside their dorm room.

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In the notice sent to the school, interim vice president of campus life Fanta Aw called the latest incident “racist” and “hateful,” saying the “messages have no place in our community.”

Taylor Dumpson, American University’s Student Government President, released a lengthy statement decrying the hateful vandalism:

Being first isn’t easy.

Early this morning, the Department of Public Safety was notified of a race-related incident targeted towards American University members of Alpha Kappa Alpha Sorority, Inc., the first predominately black greek lettered sorority in the United States.

It is disheartening and immensely frustrating that we are still dealing with this issue after recent conversations, dialogues, and town halls surrounding race relations on campus. But this is exactly why we need to do more than just have conversations but move in a direction towards more tangible solutions to prevent incidents like these from occurring in the future.

As the first black woman AUSG president, I implore all of us to unite in solidarity with those impacted by this situation and we must remember that “if there is no struggle, there is no progress” – Frederick Douglass. We must use this time to reflect on what we value as a community and we must show those in the community that bigotry, hate, and racism cannot and will not be tolerated.

This is not what I imagined my first letter to you all would be. In my first message to the student body, I would have wanted to talk about accountability, transparency, accessibility, and inclusivity. Now more than ever, we need to make sure that members of our community feel welcomed and above all, safe on this campus.

Earlier this year, the University updated the Student Code of Conduct to outline identity-motivated bias and the sanctioning process for such incidents. As the new AUSG president, I encourage the University to work to ensure that those responsible for these despicable acts are brought to justice.

Throughout this process, I will remain as transparent as possible. As with all incidents involving the conduct process, the details of any proceedings will remain largely confidential. As I receive any updates, I will share as much as possible with the student body.

This will not be tolerated now, or ever, on the campus of American University and I will do everything in my ability to ensure that this never happens again.