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‘I didn’t think it was serious’ University of Illinois student charged w/ hate crime after hanging noose found in dorm elevator

Andrew M Smith University of Illinois
Pictured University of Illinois sophomore student accused of hate crime.
Andrew M Smith University of Illinois
Pictured, Andrew M Smith University of Illinois. Police bookings.

Andrew M Smith University of Illinois college student charged with hate crime after hanging noose in Urbana campus dorm. Latest incident of racial harassment at school.

A 19-year-old college student of the University of Illinois has been charged with a felony hate crime after reportedly admitting to hanging a noose in an elevator of a campus residence hall.

The sophomore student, identified as Andrew M. Smith of Normal, Illinois, was arraigned in court on Tuesday on felony domestic violence and misdemeanor disorderly conduct.

Smith, a math major at the college, confessed to the crime and told university police he ‘only spent about 30 seconds thinking about his actions,’ Champaign County Assistant State’s Attorney Kristin Alferink told the courtroom, according to CBS 42

Noose hanging is a relic of public lynching of blacks in a bygone era, principally of America’s Southern states.

Reports a recent Guardian article: ‘Historians broadly agree that lynchings were a method of social and racial control meant to terrorize black Americans into submission, and into an inferior racial caste position. They became widely practiced in the US south from roughly 1877, the end of post-civil war reconstruction, through 1950.’

‘I didn’t think it was serious’. 

Authorities were called to the university where staffers at Allen Hall in Urbana told them that they found the noose hanging on Sunday in a public elevator at around 1 am. Officials, after their investigation, later concluded that Smith was behind the act.

At the time of the student’s arrest, Smith is alleged to have declined turning himself in upon hearing fellow ‘black’ students who were in the elevator were with him when he placed the noose, reporting him and saying they were distressed.

Smith was heard to say he did not think much of their reactions.

‘I didn’t think it was serious’, WCIA News reported the student allegedly saying.

Shortly after the incident, the University Police Chief Craig Stone released a statement, saying that the campus does not ‘tolerate incidents that are perceived by others to be a threat to their safety.’

Latest incident of hate crime at University of Illinois: 

Local media reported Sunday’s act wasn’t the first time a noose was reportedly found hanging at the University of Illinois.

In 2016, swastikas and a noose were discovered inside the Armory, Gregory and Lincoln Hall on campus.

The University said a probationary employee was responsible for the noose found on campus in the 2016 incident. The employee was dismissed.

Of note, the alleged racist incident comes months after a group of black employees at the university had filed a lawsuit claiming racial harassment in the campus was ‘standard operating procedure’ at the school, the Daily Illini campus newspaper reported.

The employees, in their complaint, had stated that the university staff members called them ‘n*gger,’ ‘monkey,’ ‘lazy,’ and ‘Aunt Jemima.’ The plaintiffs also described black employees also being ‘exposed to threats of racial violence, such as nooses, swastikas, KKK garb, racist graffiti, and confederate flags.’

But it gets grimmer.

Andrew M Smith University of Illinois
Pictured University of Illinois sophomore student accused of hate crime.

School sanctioned racism? Monkey see, monkey do? 

In a sign that the school sanctioned the alleged racist behavior, the suit also alleged the school’s Office for Access and Equity was also accused of being ‘rife with internal racial harassment.’

Attorney Jesse Centrella, on their client’s behalf, said: ‘Any hope that the University has to stamp out discrimination on their campus is hamstrung by the fact that the unit they have tasked with enforcing that discrimination law is itself saturated with racism.’

Smith’s defense attorney, Audrey Thompson, declined to comment on her client’s alleged actions during arraignment proceedings. However, she said that her client, who has a 3.79 GPA, had earned enough credits to graduate as a sophomore this year.

Student advocacy group, Black Students for Revolution have since demanded that Andrew M Smith face rigorous disciplining, including ‘immediate expulsion’ from the college for at least two years. It remained unclear what actions the university would choose to take.

Officials have yet to publicly say what motivated Smith in the alleged incidence of hate crime.