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Several Wisconsin Football Players Suspended After Sharing Image Of Burning Cross On Snapchat

KARE 11 News

The University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire campus took an emotional hit this week when several of their junior football players sent racist messages to fellow students via Snapchat.

The messages were composed by several of UW-EC’s leading junior football players, and they were directed toward the campus’ Black Men Empowerment group.

You can see local news coverage here:

It’s unclear how many messages were sent via Snapchat, but one proved to be more bothersome than the rest. Screenshots were taken and then circulated before the Snapchat message could disappear from the platform.

This led to the involved football players’ actions being investigated.

In the image now circulating on the news and via social media channels, there is a burning cross at the forefront with Ku Klux Klan members in the background.

It’s important to note, the football players not only targeted the Black Men Empowerment group. They also referenced a White Men Empowerment group equated in the picture to the KKK.

Written at the top of the image is:

“For all who can’t make the BME meeting, [another student] and I are holding WME tonight at 7.”

UWEC News

Once campus officials were made aware of the situation, Chancellor James Schmidt shared his thoughts and next steps on the matter in a tweet on Tuesday afternoon.

Schmidt wrote:

“Blugolds, today a thread of racist messages that included a photograph of a burning cross was used to target members of the [Black Men Empowerment] group. Our campus will not tolerate this racist action. I have asked the Dean of Students Office to investigate and take appropriate action.”

Despite the Chancellor’s quick reply to the matter, the tweet was largely met with skepticism from campus members and Twitter followers alike.

They wanted to see steps taken immediately, rather than holding out for an investigation.

The five involved football players were immediately suspended from the team while the investigation progresses.

Depending on the results of the investigation, the players may be permanently removed from the team. There may also be other consequences for their actions, including going so far as to suspend them from the University all-together.

Jalen Thomas, the Black Men Empowerment group’s Vice President and a former football player, said he found the messages to be hurtful and there was no excuse for the content of the messages.

Thomas said:

“These young men are adults. They’re juniors in college so they know right from wrong. I really don’t care if it’s a joke or not, there are a lot of sensitive things in our country’s history that you just don’t touch on.”

When questioned about the five football players’ actions, Scott Proctor, a UW-EC alum and star quarterback, stated he was disappointed in the new racial climate of the football team.

Proctor commented:

“You can’t say things like that and accompany those words and remarks with photos of the KKK.”

In a follow-up statement, Schmidt said:

“Some things might blur a line between what’s racist and not racist. But, nothing is more racist and really strikes at the heart of terror, for frankly a lot of our faculty and students on campus, than seeing an image of a burning cross and klansmen standing in the background.”

Since this is not the first time the campus has experienced racism against minority groups, the university undoubtedly has some work to do to improve its racial climate, as well as what actions to take when a situation arises.

McKenzie Lynn Tozan

Written by McKenzie Lynn Tozan

McKenzie Lynn Tozan lives in North Chicago, where she works as a poet, freelance writer, and editor. She received her MFA in Creative Writing from Western Michigan University, and her BA in English from Indiana University South Bend. Her poems have appeared in Rogue Agent, Whale Road Review, the James Franco Review, Thank You for Swallowing, and elsewhere; and her essays and book reviews have appeared with Memoir Mixtapes, The Rumpus, BookPage, and Motherly, among others. When she's not reading and writing, she's in her garden or spending time with her family. For more, visit www.mckenzielynntozan.com.