The Claremont Police and the FBI have released a statement saying that they have concluded their investigation into last week’s apparent hate crime, and in so doing have announced that the victim is now the primary suspect:
According to their report, two witnesses have come forward to positively identify Professor [name deleted] as the perpetrator. Furthermore, the announcement said that interviews with the alleged victim revealed inconsistencies in her statements regarding the incident.
My brain — or perhaps it’s my heart — is furiously resisting this result: if something like this happened to me, I’d be mighty inconsistent about it… who are those eyewitnesses, anyway…
So far, the only response that makes any sense to me, the only response that gives me any hope, comes from the president of one of the other colleges in town:
Professor [name deleted] is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Nonetheless, news that the victim of an alleged hate crime on our campuses is now a suspect in that crime is shocking to all of us. While each of us is dealing with our emotions in our own way, we should also confront this recent news, as we confronted the vandalism, together. We will be setting a community meeting early next week, when all students are back on campus following spring break.
Above all, we must focus on this: even if the vandalized car and slogans were a hoax, our responses last week were right and appropriate….
However painful and confusing this latest development is, we cannot forget the reasons we were outraged in the first place; we cannot avoid the challenges that hatred poses to our community, to our country. We will continue to work to make our campuses welcoming, open, diverse, and productive so that all of us can freely teach and learn to the best of our abilities.
The question that’s haunting me now: What do I say to my classes on Monday? How can we talk about this in a way that rejects the reactionary “you guys totally overreacted; allegations of racism here are all part of a liberal plot to make us feel bad” response that is already building around here?