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Mace & Crown | July 25, 2017

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Racist Video Investigation Update from ODU Chief of Police

Dear Members of the University Community,

On February 21, the University Police Department began a review of a racially intolerant video containing hate speech that had been posted to YouTube. In one segment of the video, a woman wore a sweatshirt with an ODU logo. In response, I immediately forwarded the video to the investigative unit as a top priority. The members of the investigative unit, who have been working on this, have collectively more than 158 years of police experience at various agencies.     

I’m writing today to provide an update on the status of that review. We are committed to making our campus safe, so I leveraged the capacity of our crime analysis, intelligence and threat assessment functions with that of our local and federal law enforcement partners to monitor social media and other sources for any indication of potential violence toward our community. At this time, there has been no evidence of violence targeted toward the ODU or the local community and we will continue our aggressive investigation with the ultimate objective of maintaining a safe campus for all.

Investigating issues of this nature is complicated due to the open nature of the web, but our partnership with other law enforcement organizations remains active in our efforts to identify the source of the video. University Housing officials confirmed the video was not filmed in an Old Dominion residence hall. Likewise, we investigated tips forwarded by concerned members of the community, which resulted in clearing several women who had been incorrectly implicated on social media. So far, we have found no evidence that any member of our community was involved.

The detestable message in this video has had the opposite effect of what this person seemed to have intended. Rather than separate us, it has united the Old Dominion campus community in support of the shared values of diversity, respect and inclusion.

The investigation remains active, and I ask you to please forward any additional information you may have regarding the source of the video to the Police Department at 757-683-4000.

Best regards,

Rhonda Harris
Assistant Vice President of Public Safety
Chief of Police
FBI NA #232