Two freshmen at Northwestern University are being accused of spray painting racist and anti-gay messages inside of a chapel on campus, in addition to writing the name “Trump.”
Anthony Morales and Matthew Kafker, 19 and 18 respectively, were arrested over the weekend and charged with institutional vandalism, hate crime in a place of worship, and criminal damage to property. “These allegations are disgusting to me,” Judge Peggy Chiampas said, who then set their bail at $50,000 each, with 10% posted for their release from custody, writes Claudia Koerner for Buzzfeed.
Racist, anti-Semitic, anti-gay, and other such graffiti were reportedly found on the walls, in the office, and on an organ inside the non-denominational Alice Millar Chapel late last week, according to the university. In addition to the criminal charges, the pair have been placed on interim suspension, which does not allow them to come onto university property.
According to William Lee for The Chicago Tribune, the pair are accused of spray painting penises, a swastika and the word “Trump.” They are also said to have crossed out a photo of Muslim students.
“Northwestern is committed to creating a safe, secure, and welcoming environment for all of our students, faculty, and staff,” University President Morton Schapiro said in a statement following the incident. “This disgusting act of hatred violates the deepest values and core commitments of our University and is an affront to us all.”
After surveillance video was reviewed by police showing the two boys entering the chapel without permission with spray cans at close to 12:45am on Thursday night, they were apprehended and arrested on Friday. After making bond, they were released from jail on Saturday.
“I don’t know if any of you know how lucky you are to be at Northwestern University,” the judge said. As Morales’ mother cried in the gallery, Chiampas said to the woman, “I don’t mean to upset you. I mean to upset them.”
The vandalism was found by University Chaplain Timothy Stevens the following morning, who said he was disturbed to see what had been done to the chapel. “It was just kind of like ‘oh my goodness, this is really hideous,’” he said.
Stevens went on to say that Facilities Management came quickly and worked to rid the chapel of the graffiti. In the end, the majority of it was gone by the middle of the day on Friday. Although not all of it was able to come off, he said the remainder are in spots that many of the members of the NU community do not see. He is hoping to have the rest removed by the middle of the week with a more sophisticated removal technique, writes Madeline Fox for The Daily Northwestern.
Prosecutors have not said what they believe to be behind the act of vandalism.
Both of the men have admitted their guilt, offering handwritten and recorded statements to university police.
According to university officials, the damages to the chapel total over $300.