Hateful messages left near IU Latino Cultural Center

One left on a kitchen table read "criminals deport". Across the room on a refrigerator the phrase "you need to leave" was spelled out in magnets.

Bloomington, Ind.

A newly posted sign outside the Indiana University Latino Cultural Center known as La Casa reads 'Welcome to our home away from home', but someone recently targeted that home with what IU police have dubbed hateful messages directed at Latinos.

Late last week, La Casa staff found two notes. One left on a kitchen table that read "criminals deport". Across the room on a refrigerator the phrase "you need to leave" was spelled out in magnets.

"I think, if anything, it was more shock that that would happen," said Gabrielle Acquaro, an IU senior.

"For someone to put that down kind of just brings us down to a different level," said Juan Cano, an IU junior.

Director of La Casa Lillian Casillas said the message came during a week in which they were working with thousands of incoming freshman on diversity training.

"I mean it shows the need that there's still a lot of education that needs to happen," Casillas said. "You know I don't know if the notes were left as a joke or somebody who is hateful but the point is it's somebody who is really ignorant."

In her 17 years at La Casa Casillas said they have dealt with a few similar messages, but she said they're taking it very seriously because the center is located less than two blocks from the Chabad House Jewish Student Center, which someone targeted last November by shattering a window with a rock.

"That's one of the reasons why it was reported to police and the police are following up on it," Casillas said.

Though Casilas said the messages at La Casa aren't on par with the string of hate crimes on Jewish centers, she said they've seen a similar response from the community.

"As people have found out about the notes that we got we've had a lot of people rally, you know non-latinos, and they're all coming together," Casillas said. "It's kind of fun because what they believe is that if it happens to one of us it happens to everybody.

Casillas said the 'Home away from home' sign is the latest example of how their community has grown in a good way.

"It's their way of saying this is our home," she said. "You know no matter what happened and who came in and left this note, that this is still our home."

IU PD is investigating the incident as racially motivated harassment, in the meantime they have also increased patrols around La Casa.
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