CALDWELL, Idaho — A small group of students, faculty, and staff came together to up rainbow-colored flags around the College of Idaho campus in Caldwell Monday night in celebration of Pride month.
By Wednesday morning, a majority of those flags had been vandalized.
In a statement Wednesday afternoon, the college said someone late Tuesday night vandalized several flags and spray-painted comments on the sidewalk near Sterry Hall.
The graffiti has since been removed. The College of Idaho released a photo of a person dressed all in black, describing him as a "person of interest" in the vandalism.
"If you have any information about this individual or the incident, please contact Caldwell Police or Campus Safety," the college posted.
College of Idaho Co-Presidents Doug Brigham and Jim Everett issued a statement Wednesday afternoon:
“As you all know, there was an ugly act of hate on our campus last night. An act of hatred against one of us is an act against all of us. It was vandalism and it included the words ‘Not in My Town.’ This is our town and our campus and there is no place for hate here.
“We live, work, study, and play here. We are more committed than ever to making our campus a safe place for all. It is a safe place in which everyone must feel welcome, where we value the opportunity to learn from one another and from diverse perspectives, cultures, and lived experiences. We are Yotes and we are a pack that stands and works together. We will not be deterred on our efforts to be the most welcoming campus and community on earth. There is work to be done and we will continue to engage in that work every day. Love wins every time.”
Caldwell Mayor Garret Nancolas condemned the vandalism and expressed his support for The College of Idaho community.
“Crime of any kind will not be tolerated in the City of Caldwell,” Nancolas said. “Hate crimes especially have no place in our beautiful city. Every person, no matter their race, gender, orientation, or economic status deserves to be treated with kindness, respect, and the pure love of Christ. We love our College and all its students, and we value immensely the contributions the College continually brings to our community.”
The College of Idaho's Gender Sexuality Campus Alliance (GSCA) Group, which helped organize Monday's event, said they're hurt by the action but are encouraging the community to take a stand against hate.
“The Gender Sexuality Campus Alliance (GSCA) wholeheartedly condemns any hateful actions, large or small, which are targeted towards the LGBTQ+ community," the group said in a statement. "To fellow members of our community, we want you to know that we are there for you, regardless of your identity or if you are out or not. To our allies, we encourage you to take a stand against actions of hate whenever you can. Our community is hurting and seeing your support for LGBTQ+ causes means more than you know.”
Students at the college responded, bringing out chalk to leave hand-drawn hearts and messages of support in the area where the vandalism happened.
The Associated Students of the College of Idaho (ASCI) Executive Council also expressed support for the campus community in a statement:
“This act of hate is atrocious and holds no place here on our campus. Our Executive Council feels immense sorrow for our LGBTQ+ community and the rest of the individuals cherished in our community. In this time of trouble and sorrow, there is a silver lining. This is a teaching moment. We have learned that just being an ‘ally’ is not enough to protect our LGBTQ+ community. As budding scholars, we know how just how interconnected the fights for racial justice and LGBTQ justice are. It is our responsibility to ensure that safety is paramount within our community, but also that we are becoming better stewards of our community. We must actively ban together to create and instill values of anti-hate amongst our peers and our community. Now more than ever, The College of Idaho must stand strong against intolerance of any kind.”
The Caldwell Police Department is investigating the incident.
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