MTSU police offering cash reward after bus stops were vandalized with racial slurs

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MURFREESBORO, Tenn. (WKRN) — Middle Tennessee State University police are asking for help after a suspect was caught on camera vandalizing bus stops on campus with “racist graffiti.”

According to police, the incident happened early May 13, in the Rutherford lot. A racial slur was spelled out in full at least twice, in photos given to News 2 from current students.

In one image, the slur was spelled out on top of an American Americans photo. In another video posted on Twitter, the same slur was written several times on a bench.

“When it’s in your face, it hurts, and I can only imagine what the student who had the graffiti on his forehead feels. Imagine being told that you’re going to be advertising for campus, spreading health and safety only to end up the target of a hate crime,” said Braxton Coleman, a current Senior at MTSU.

Coleman says as a member of the Black Student Union on campus, one of his missions is to make minorities feel safe on campus. However, with someone vandalizing bus stops, he says it’s harder to encourage others.

“It’s like, ‘oh, you take our skin tone for a joke, you take this hateful language as something to joke about,'” Coleman said.

When News 2 first spoke with Coleman, just hours after the university police posted about the vandal, he said the news didn’t come as a surprise.

According to Coleman, this isn’t the first time racial slurs have been written on campus property. Back in August of 2020, he says four students were walking on a path connected to the Rutherford parking lot across from Greek Row, when they noticed the same slurs written on the wall.

“This has happened many times before, and it will happen many times again if we don’t attack it at the root of the problem,” said Coleman.

The MTSU Police Department is asking anyone with information to contact Crime Stoppers at (615) 893-7867 (STOP). The department is offering a $500 cash reward for information leading to an arrest. All tipsters will remain anonymous.

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