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University of Illinois student charged with hate crime after noose left in campus elevator

2019-09-06

This undated photo provided by the Champaign County Sheriff's Office in Champaign, Ill., shows Andrew Smith, who was charged with a felony hate crime. (AP)

A 19-year-old student at the University of Illinois has been arrested after he allegedly hung a noose in a dorm elevator.

Andrew Smith was charged with misdemeanor disorderly conduct and committing a hate crime, the Champaign County Sheriff’s Office announced.

Early Sunday morning, staff members at the Allen Hall residence building on the Urbana-Champaign campus found a rope tied into a noose inside an elevator, according to a school press release. Smith was identified “after investigating.”

“Our mission at the University Police Department is to maintain a safe and secure environment where our campus community members feel supported and successful,” Executive Director of Public Safety and Chief of Police Craig Stone said in a statement. “We do not tolerate incidents that are perceived by others to be a threat to their safety, and we will always respond quickly to identify offenders and hold them accountable for those actions.”

A judge set Smith’s bond at $5,000 in court Wednesday, according to the News-Gazette.

“Hate has no place in Illinois or in its educational institutions, and I’m glad swift action was taken to address this incident," Gov. J.B. Pritzker tweeted Tuesday.

“I’m committed to fighting intolerance and bigotry everywhere in our state and building a culture of learning at our universities that serves all students. Support is being offered on campus for students who may wish to participate or attend community meetings to share their voices and experiences.”

Smith’s arrest comes just months after three black employees sued the school in January, alleging that they were frequently subjected to “threats of racial violence, such as nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti, and confederate flags.” That lawsuit is still pending in the Central District of Illinois federal court.