College student faces hate crime charges for racist graffiti
COLLEGE PARK, Md. (AP) — A black student blamed his “bottled up anger” for racist, threatening graffiti he admitted to scrawling in a bathroom on a Maryland college campus, according to a police report.
Baltimore County police on Monday filed hate crime charges against 21-year-old Fynn Arthur, a Brunswick, Maine, resident who was enrolled as a student at Goucher College in Towson, Maryland.
Police arrested Arthur last Thursday on misdemeanor charges of malicious destruction of property. He was released from custody after a court hearing last Friday. State’s Attorney Scott Shellenberger said his office subsequently recommended the additional charges, which also are misdemeanors.
“We felt that with the message that was involved, there was sufficient evidence that the motive behind the message was race-related,” he told The Associated Press on Tuesday.
Arthur told investigators he was responsible for the bathroom graffiti of a backward swastika and a death threat that included a racial slur against blacks and the numbers of dorm rooms belonging to black students, including himself, the police report says.
“When asked why he would do something like that, he replied that he has a lot of built up anger with no way to vent it on campus,” the report says.
Arthur, who was a member of the Goucher College men’s lacrosse team, has been banned from campus pending disciplinary proceedings, college officials said in a statement. The officials said they were “shocked and saddened that these acts were committed by a member of our own College community.”
“These acts of hate have consumed our community, and we feel strongly that the suspect should receive the strongest charges, which reflect the seriousness of these crimes,” said their statement, dated last Friday.
Shellenberger said he doesn’t know if Arthur has an attorney. Efforts to reach Arthur weren’t immediately successful Tuesday.
The new charges that Arthur faces make it a crime to damage property because of a person or group’s race, religious, sexual orientation or national origin.
Police began investigating after a student found the threatening graffiti written in black marker in a bathroom stall and on a bathroom wall on Nov. 14. Police interviewed Arthur that day since his room number had been in the message. He said he was “shocked that someone would target him in that manner because of his race,” the report says.
More racist graffiti, including the initials “KKK,” was found last Thursday in a different bathroom on another floor in the same building. Investigators provided questionnaires to students named in the graffiti incident, and Arthur’s handwriting was “consistent” with the writing in both bathrooms, police said.
Arthur had scanned his ID to enter the building shortly before the graffiti was discovered last Thursday, according to the report. He also had scanned his ID at several residential buildings just before similar “bias-related graffiti” was discovered there in March 2017, the report says.
Arthur “blamed his bottled up anger for the first incident on (Nov. 14),” the report says. “When asked what caused him to commit the second graffiti incident, he replied he had been drinking and ‘just did something dumb.’”