Was The Poop Swastika Incident At Mizzou A Giant Hoax?

Was The Poop Swastika Incident At Mizzou A Giant Hoax?

Something stinks at the University of Missouri. A reported incident of vandalism at Mizzou sparked university-wide protests, a boycott by the school’s 4-5 football team, and eventually the resignation of the university’s president and chancellor.

There’s only one problem: no evidence of the alleged incident, in which a poop swastika on the wall of a dormitory restroom was reported, has ever been made publicly available. Did this incident occur as reported, or was it an immaculate defecation that formed the foundation of an unimaginable deception?

According to Billy Donley, the president of Mizzou’s Residence Halls Association (RHA), the poop swastika was reported at approximately 2:00 a.m. on October 24, 2015.

“On Saturday, October 24th, at 2:00am an individual came into one of the restrooms in Gateway Hall and drew a swastika on the wall with their own feces,” Donley wrote in a letter several days after the alleged incident. “This event happened while many students, including myself, were already asleep.”

Later in his letter, Donley noted that he only found out about the alleged vandalism incident “via a flyer posted on the walls” of the dorm.

Although Donley did not respond to repeated requests for comment prior to publication, The Federalist spoke with two RHA staffers while trying to get in touch with Donley. Neither had personally witnessed the poop swastika. When asked if there was any photographic evidence of the alleged incident, one staffer replied, “Not to my knowledge.”

Frankie Minor, the director of residential life at Mizzou, did not respond to repeated requests for comment on whether he personally saw the poop swastika or any photographic evidence of it.

The Federalist also attempted to contact Christian Basi, the associate director of the University of Missouri News Bureau, who previously told the Columbia Missourian on Oct. 30 that the incident had been immediately reported to Mizzou police. Basi did not respond to requests for comment prior to the publication of this article.

Calls to the University of Missouri Police Department, which responded to and investigated the alleged poop swastika incident, also failed to yield any evidence of the poopstika.

Multiple activists on Twitter pointed to this photo as proof that the incident occurred as reported, but a Google search for the same image shows that it has been floating around the Internet for nearly a year. A reddit thread from November of 2014 appears to contain the earliest publication of the photo in question, meaning that it most certainly does not constitute proof of the incident alleged to have occurred at Mizzou on October 24, 2015.

Maj. Brian Weimer, the public information officer for the Mizzou police department, told The Federalist that he also did not personally see the poop swastika that was reported to police. When asked if anyone in the police department personally witnessed the swastika, Maj. Weimer clammed up and referred all questions about the incident to the university’s custodian of public records.

The Federalist also repeatedly contacted @ConcernedStudent1950, the Twitter account representing Mizzou protesters who issued a series of demands of university administrators after the alleged poop swastika incident made headlines. The individuals running the @CS1950 account failed to produce any photographic or documentary evidence of the incident prior to publication of this article.

While a mere absence of evidence is not synonymous with evidence of absence, the complete lack of any verifiable photographic evidence of the alleged poop swastika and the lack of any named eye witnesses raises serious questions about the veracity of a racially charged incident of vandalism that eventually led to the resignation of the University of Missouri’s two top administrators.

Did the incident happen as reported, or did two university administrators resign over protests that were sparked by a hoax? And if the incident did happen as reported, a proposition for which no publicly available evidence currently exists, how did university administrators and law enforcement authorities confirm that the vandalism was driven by racial animosity, as opposed to being promulgated as a public relations stunt meant to tar the university for failing to provide an environment free of racist invective? It would not be the first time a public university fell victim to a high profile PR stunt that was later revealed to be a fabrication. Either way, students, their parents, university employees, and Missouri taxpayers deserve solid, verifiable answers based on clear evidence about what exactly transpired in that Gateway Wall bathroom in the early morning of October 24.

Under the provisions of Missouri’s broad public records laws, The Federalist has requested from the University of Missouri copies of any and all records relating to the alleged vandalism, including any police or incident reports describing the investigation of the poop swastika by law enforcement authorities, as well as any photographic records of the alleged swastika, and will make that information available if and when it is received from university officials.

[UPDATE]: Late Wednesday night, the Daily Caller obtained a copy of the police report describing the Mizzou police department’s response to a report of vandalism in Gateway Hall on October 24, 2015. Despite repeated requests from The Federalist for the document and information contained with in it, the University of Missouri still has not provided to The Federalist it or any other documents requested pursuant to the state’s open records laws.

You can read the police report here.

[UPDATE 2]: On Thursday afternoon, pursuant to a public records request previously filed by The Federalist, the University of Missouri released photos of the incident, as well as previously unreported details about an incident the prior week in which a student hurled racial slurs at a white resident of the same dorm. The full details about the documents released on Thursday can be found here.

Sean Davis is the co-founder of The Federalist.
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