Frat Expelled After 'MLK Black Party'
A popular fraternity faces serious consequences after hosting an MLK Day party. Where did students hold this offensive party and what did they have to do to get in?
Updated 1/24/14, 9:10am ET to include the fraternity's expulsion from the university.
By Chris Hoenig
Arizona State University officials have expelled a popular fraternity after a racist and offensive party held on a weekend to celebrate the nation's most revered civil-rights leader.
The school's Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) chapter initially had its operations halted after pictures posted on social media showed partygoers at the frat's "MLK Black Party" dressed in basketball jerseys, flashing gang signs and drinking from watermelon cups. School officials announced late Thursday that the fraternity had been expelled.
"I think this represents the ignorance that still exists today. This is just one example of the kind of things that occur here," ASU senior Kaajal Koranteng told KPHO-TV in Phoenix.
"This isn't appropriate at all and you really have no business dressing like this on a day that's sort of revered for African-Americans," senior Frank Hogan added after seeing some of the pictures.
The frat was already on probation after being reinstated in December from another suspension, and it was prohibited from throwing parties. "ASU has one of the most diverse student bodies of any major university in the country, and it is unfortunate that a few misguided individuals held an offensive party at a time when ASU, the state and the nation are celebrating Dr. King's achievements and legacy. The university will not tolerate this kind of behavior," read an official ASU statement announcing the indefinite suspension. The university added that the party was not sanctioned by the school and did not take place on school grounds.
"This incident is one of many that prove we still have a long way to go in solving problems of racism in America," Phoenix-based civil-rights activist Reverend Jarrett Maupin said. He is demanding diversity and racial-sensitivity training at the school because of what he calls a "culture of bigotry within some white Greek organizations: at the university. "There should be a zero-tolerance policy for racism at ASU. Period," Maupin added.
"We are aware of the situation. We have been contacted and we have been in contact with the local chapter and the university," national TKE organization Director of Compliance & Housing Patrick Gleason said. He added that the national body had worked with the local ASU chapter to get it reinstated and back on campus last month after its suspension for inappropriate conduct, including a fight that left one student injured. Gleason said he planned to meet with school and chapter officials following this latest suspension.
The national TKE organization, based in Indianapolis, released a statement on the party and suspension:
"Tau Kappa Epsilon does not condone or support any actions by its members that would be defined as racist, discriminatory and/or offensive. Social events with 'party themes' that are defined as such have no place in our fraternity's mission or purpose. It is with embarrassment and regret when a few individuals within our organization make decisions that do not align with the values and principles of Tau Kappa Epsilon.
"Since 1899, our fraternity has taken much pride in the diversity and uniqueness of our membership. Tau Kappa Epsilon has never had an exclusionary clause in our membership. Our founders believed, as we do today, in the personal worth and character of the individual, not his wealth, rank or honor. We take great pride in having members who were and are still advocates of civil-rights movements in the United States. We celebrate all men and women of all races, genders, creeds, orientations and beliefs who strive each day to make the world a better place.
"We apologize for any offensive actions that a few of our members might have participated in. We can assure all other parties that these actions do not represent Tau Kappa Epsilon and the beliefs of love, charity and esteem that we have stood by for 115 years. We will respond to these individuals while holding the utmost respect for our principles of being Better Men for a Better World.
"A member of the Tau Kappa Epsilon Fraternity professional staff is currently onsite at Arizona State University to begin an investigation. We have been working with university officials since we became aware of the alleged incident."
But the meeting between the school and the national TKE organization does not sit well with Reverend Maupin. "To try and meet on this matter without engaging Black leaders is adding insult to injury," he said. "We must be at the table." He is also demanding that the school expel all students involved with the party.
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Her racist comments cost Susan Westwood her job, her apartment, and gave her a criminal record.
Susan Westwood's racist rant landed her simple assault and criminal threats charges and a warrant after leaving the scene where she harassed the Garris sisters outside their Charlotte, N.C., apartment complex, threatening them with concealed weapons.
The fake 911 call she made saying that the sisters were trying to break in also earned her a misdemeanor warrant for misuse of the 911 system, according to Charlotte-Mecklenburg Police Department.
Westwood was booked by Sunset Beach Police on Saturday and transferred to the Brunswick County Sheriff's Department. She was later released.
The Garris sisters' attorney, Michael Phillips, brought up the safety issue in terms of concealed weapons and threats to residents to the Camden Fairview Apartments attorneys, and they agreed to evict Westwood.
"When I spoke with them and their legal counsel they agreed that that behavior was not going to be tolerated at their apartment complex," Phillips said.
Westwood had threatened to take out her concealed weapons after telling the sisters that she was white and hot, and that they didn't belong there.
The 911 call Westwood made was released by police:
"There are folks that are trying to break in. They're trying to get in the apartments. They are actually people that I've never seen here before ― but they are African American."
When the dispatcher said that police were already responding to a broken down car in that area, Westwood replied: "If you want to know my personal opinion, there's no car broken down. There's somebody trying to cause problems. Nobody breaks their car down in the best part of society."
"They just don't belong here. … Get them out of here," Westwood demanded. "I'll tell you what, I'll pay $2,500 to get them out of here."
In a recording of a call made by Garris, she told another dispatcher that she was still waiting for police while Westwood was harassing her.
Westwood was heard screaming, "You're not going to sell drugs here."
Garris had to call 911 twice to get a response about Westwood, and when they showed up Westwood had already gone. She was MIA for four days, before turning herself in.
"We are so distraught and still very upset about what has taken place only because of the color of our skin. It was so upsetting to know that today we still have this overt racism that's going on in 2018," said one of the sisters.
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A video clip that Florida Democratic gubernatorial candidate Andrew Gillum posted on Twitter has gone viral with more than 3 million views. In just 40 seconds of Wednesday night's debate, Gillum, who is the mayor of Tallahassee, explains why racists believe Republican former U.S. Rep. Ron DeSantis is a racist.
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A satirical phone line with a real message for racist white people calling the police on Black people for no reason.
Comedienne Niecy Nash teamed up with the New York Times to create a real 800 number for white people who are afraid of Black people to call, instead of calling the police.
It's an answer to all the nonsense calls that have put Blacks in danger of contact with authorities (who notoriously have a dangerous relationship), and a wake-up call to white people that are racist, and apparently don't know it.
911 dispatchers not wanting to pass along the calls made by white people may want to give out this number to save racists embarrassment, jobs, death threats, and save time and emergency resources for those who really need it— like EMS for Blacks being shot by police, perhaps?
Wait for it.... yup. It's a REAL number 🙌🏽 911 is for EMERGENCIES not your concerns, unprecedented fears or privilege. Black & brown people are being killed by law enforcement at alarming… https://t.co/76vZehXbpG
— Niecy Nash (@NiecyNash) October 23, 2018
It provides options in English and Spanish and encourages white people who are uncomfortable with Spanish to protect their ears and push no. 1.
In the commercial for the number, Nash says it's "a radical new product that will save you all the headaches from being filmed and outed as a racist douche."
She continues explaining, "Our experienced staff have been living while Black their entire lives ... It's a real number, for real white people who should mind their own damn business."
New! A Hotline for Racists | NYT Opinion www.youtube.com
Many on social media responded in applause:
When your friend is beautiful and brilliant and black and smart and funny as hell and looks damn good in a retro purple blazer while throwing satirical shade at Josh, Chad and Becky, your friend is @NiecyNash. pic.twitter.com/Qtq171Bjvv
— Ava DuVernay (@ava) October 23, 2018
Travis, there's help for you. Call 1-844-WYT-FEAR.
— 🌜LunaDeLaCasa🌛 (@creolepepper) October 23, 2018
Why not have a black guest on the show to explain! 🙄 #1844wytfear #Diversity answers questions you may have of others! ✊🏾❣️
— TealoveDaLadz (@tealovely69) October 23, 2018
As #WhileBlack incidents continue to increase in the spotlight, others have offered solutions for the problem of white fear.
Several months ago a New York Senator, Jesse Hamilton, who represents the Brownsville, Crown Heights, and Flatbush neighborhoods of Brooklyn, proposed a hate crime law after a Trump supporter called the police on him while he was campaigning.
This 800 number is sure to be called by many people of color and their allies who seek a good laugh, but the point remains —calling 911 for no good reason is a problem that is more dangerous than it is ridiculous.