Vandals last weekend spray painted the University of Florida's Institute of Black Culture with swastikas and racist slogans, including "KKK" and "White Awareness Movement." The institute is a University of Florida (UF) program that sponsors history activities and manages a collection of artifacts and books. It is just north of the campus.
Authorities have classified the incident as a hate crime, making it punishable as a third-degree misdemeanor, UF police spokeswoman Angie Tipton said Monday.
UF President John Lombardi said he was disappointed someone had expressed an opinion so destructively.
"Any time people go around painting hate slogans on walls, you have to feel sorry for them," Lombardi said. "That's not the kind of behavior we want in the university community."
Tensions between black UF students and the university's Student Government arose this month when the group allotted $9,000 for a Black History Month celebration. Ten students had a sit-in at the Student Government campus offices for three hours until student senators increased the celebration's budget to about $30,000.
Several days later, students announced the formation of Black Awareness Movement!, or BAM! Tipton said police have not determined whether the sit-in, the formation of BAM! and Sunday's incident were related.
UF and Gainesville police received an anonymous tip about the vandalism Sunday night, Tipton said. Police scoured the surrounding neighborhood with a K-9 unit but made no arrests.