November 17, 2018

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Police searching for U of M poster suspects

SUPPLIED</p><p>The signs were posted at the U of M.</p></p>

SUPPLIED

The signs were posted at the U of M.

POLICE are looking for suspects after small posters bearing the slogan “It’s okay to be white” were taped to walls at the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus buildings.

A Winnipeg Police Service spokeswoman confirmed police involvement Monday, but stopped short of saying whether the incident was being investigated as a potential hate crime.

“Due to the nature of the complaint, the report goes directly to our intelligence unit for follow up. It will be up to them to determine if further investigation is needed,” Const. Tammy Skrabek said.

“At this point, no arrests have been made.”

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POLICE are looking for suspects after small posters bearing the slogan "It’s okay to be white" were taped to walls at the University of Manitoba’s Fort Garry campus buildings.

A Winnipeg Police Service spokeswoman confirmed police involvement Monday, but stopped short of saying whether the incident was being investigated as a potential hate crime.

"Due to the nature of the complaint, the report goes directly to our intelligence unit for follow up. It will be up to them to determine if further investigation is needed," Const. Tammy Skrabek said.

"At this point, no arrests have been made."

Meanwhile, an anonymous email was sent to U of M women’s studies professors and various Canadian journalists from a person claiming to be the masked individual who papered the school’s walls Halloween night.

"I am the student who put up the ‘It’s ok to be white’ flyers at the U of M... They were posted in protest of racially discriminatory ideology that is taught at the University of Manitoba that targets white individuals," read the email signed by someone using the name of 16th-century leader of the protestant reformation Martin Luther.

Widely shared on social media, as well as on white supremacist websites over the weekend, the email writer took responsibility for taping the flyers to walls – but not for faxing the message multiple times to the U of M native studies department.

The university continued its investigation Monday. One of the first actions the school took was to call police, executive director of public affairs John Danakas said Monday.

Whether a police investigation results in an arrest appeared to be separate from whatever action university authorities might also be planning, he indicated.

"The original action has been firmly condemned by the president and security services has reported the incident to the WPS while continuing to investigate," Danakas said.

Whether the university planned to expel any students — should they be deemed to be involved in the incident — was another question.

"The focus is always on ensuring safety and a respectful environment, rather than engaging directly with provocations," Danakas said by email.

University of Manitoba Students’ Union president Jakob Sanderson said Monday by phone his organization isn’t calling for expulsions.

"Without a name, we still don’t have any confirmation as to exactly who this person is," the UMSU president said.

"We haven’t found it productive to outline what we expect in terms of disciplinary measures in terms of the lack of information we have. Frankly, it’s not our jurisdiction. It’s up to the university to handle these types of things."

Sanderson said he planned to meet with university administrators from its human rights and conflict management office for a briefing.

The U of M described the blitz as part of a co-ordinated campaign that involved white-masked individuals posting the same message around downtown Ottawa and Halifax on Halloween night.

The same notices have appeared elsewhere in the country and in the United States, United Kingdom, Australia and New Zealand.

The Winnipeg email claims "Martin Luther" acted alone and was unaware of any international links, or even national ones.

"I have been a student at the University of Manitoba for several years now and the horrifying reality is that many professors explicitly teach in their courses that it is not okay to be white," the email said.

The message writer did not expect police to investigate the incident as a hate crime. The prospect of criminal charges also didn’t appear to be a concern.

A request for an interview sent to the sender’s email address drew no response.

alexandra.paul@freepress.mb.ca

Alexandra Paul

Alexandra Paul
Reporter

Alexandra is a veteran news reporter who has covered stories for the Winnipeg Free Press since 1987. She held the medical beat for nearly 17 years, and today specializes in coverage of Indigenous-related issues. She is among the most versatile journalists on the paper’s staff.

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History

Updated on Monday, November 5, 2018 at 6:20 PM CST: Adds photo

6:35 PM: Adds photo

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