An Oregon college student was convicted Thursday of hate crimes for putting bumper stickers featuring a racist slur on cars belonging to members of a social justice organization.
Andrew Oswalt, a graduate student at Oregon State University and a former member of the school’s student government, was found guilty on three counts of first-degree intimidation — considered a hate crime in Oregon — and two counts of third-degree criminal mischief following the June 2017 acts.
Authorities said Oswalt, 28, and an accomplice put stickers that used a slur against African-Americans on a pair of cars outside of a food co-op. Pamphlets featuring anti-Semitic diatribe were also discovered on all the cars parked outside the co-op.
“The impact of his actions goes beyond the vehicles and individuals he targeted,” prosecuting attorney Ryan Joslin said of Oswalt. “His intent was to terrorize an entire community.”
Oswalt was tracked down using surveillance footage, while the other suspect has not been identified. Stickers and pamphlets matching those on the cars were discovered by authorities inside Oswalt’s home, according to police.
He could face up to 90 days in jail and will be sentenced on Dec. 12.
Oswalt’s attorney contends the prosecutors have not proven that his client is guilty.
“It is possible someone else did it entirely,” Nicolas Ortiz said, according to the Corvallis Gazette-Times. “The bottom line is we don’t know.”
Photos emerged in the days after his arrest showing Oswalt making a Nazi salute and holding a flag featuring a swastika, according to an OregonLive report.
Shortly before his arrest, Oswalt took part in an interview with his university’s campus newspaper, The Daily Barometer, which reported that Oswalt had made controversial claims including that white people are more intelligent than some other races. Oswalt contended in the article that he often made extreme statements to troll others.
“I am not a Hollywood Nazi,” Oswalt told the student outlet. “I am not interested in killing anyone. I am not interested in harming anyone. All I want is a frank discussion.”
He was removed from his student government position earlier this year following a vote, but is still enrolled at OSU.