Goucher College student arrested in two racist graffiti incidents

The Baltimore Sun

Police arrested a Goucher College student in connection with two incidents of racist graffiti found in a campus dorm, which rattled the student body in recent weeks.

Fynn Ajani Arthur, a 21-year-old from Brunswick, Maine, was arrested at about 6 p.m. on the Towson campus Thursday and charged with two counts of malicious destruction of property, Baltimore County police said.

No attorney was listed in court records as representing Arthur. Efforts to reach Arthur and his family Friday were not successful.

Arthur’s arrest came after graffiti aimed at African-Americans and Latinos was found Thursday around 1:50 a.m. on the second floor of a campus dorm, one floor above where similar graffiti had been found Nov. 14, Goucher College administrators said in a statement.

In both incidents, specific individuals were targeted and the graffiti included a backward swastika, according to the statement from Goucher president José Bowen, vice president and dean Bryan Coker, interim associate dean Nicole Johnson and director of public safety David Heffer. The graffiti found Thursday included swastikas and "KKK," and appeared to include the last names of four black students, including Arthur, who is also black, according to police.

Arthur was on his own recognizance following a bail review hearing Friday, according to police.

Goucher officials said Arthur had been removed and banned from campus pending adjudication through the college’s student conduct processes. He was listed as a player on Goucher’s lacrosse team on the college’s website.

Coker condemned the racist messages during a news conference Friday and criticized the Baltimore County police department for not having charged Arthur with a hate crime.

“These acts of hate have consumed our community and we feel strongly that the suspect should be prosecuted with the strongest charges, which reflect the seriousness of these crimes,” Coker said.

A crime believed to be motivated by bias is typically passed to a state’s attorney’s office for consideration before those charges are filed, said Officer Jennifer Peach, a spokeswoman for Baltimore County police.

Goucher College Public Safety officials partnered with Baltimore County Police and the Federal Bureau of Investigation Baltimore Field Office to investigate both of the graffiti incidents, and officers concluded Arthur was responsible for the messages based on evidence found Thursday, according to police.

Officials said the college has reached out to the individuals targeted in the graffiti to offer support.

Still, some black students on campus Friday continued to harbor concerns following the news of Arthur’s arrest.

Senior Cydnii Jones said the graffiti incidents were symptoms of a larger issue of racism on campus.

Some black students have started a buddy system for walking in pairs around campus at night. Members of Goucher’s black student union group Umoja have designated a common area on campus for students to gather, debrief and vent.

The area was filled with students Friday afternoon. Nearby, a list of seven demands, signed by students in black marker, sat on a table. The demands included the hiring of more black staff members on campus, the installation of security cameras in residence halls and the requirement that a class on cultural competency be integrated into the First Year Mentor program.

“We had to mobilize when we were just trying to get an education,” Jones said. “It’s just really disappointing and draining.”

The list itself served as evidence that race problems on campus have persisted, Jones said. The demands were recycled from a similar list penned in 2014 by another class.

“My concern is [officials] will be like ‘we got him, we’ve solved all your problems,’” Jones said. “But this is just the tip of the iceberg.”

Baltimore Sun reporters Catherine Rentz and Sarah Meehan contributed to this story.

lireed@baltsun.com

twitter.com/LillianEReed

A previous version of this story contained incorrect information provided by Baltimore County police regarding the way hate crimes are charged in Maryland. The Sun regrets the error.
Copyright © 2018, The Baltimore Sun, a Baltimore Sun Media Group publication | Place an Ad
48°