A few updates to a story from yesterday about Oberlin College canceling classes after someone reported spotting a person walking on campus wearing what appeared to be a Ku Klux Klan-like hooded robe. Local police say they responded to the report, but weren't able to find anyone wearing the hard-to-miss KKK garb. They did, however, discover a female walking with a blanket wrapped around her, suggesting the very real possibility that the eyewitness was mistaken. The Chronicle-Telegram:
Oberlin police Lt. Mike McCloskey said that authorities did find a pedestrian wrapped in a blanket. He said police interviewed another witness later in the day and that person also saw a female walking with a blanket. He said Oberlin police were contacted by campus security and interviewed the student who reported seeing the KKK outfit. McCloskey said police haven’t been able to substantiate the initial report, although that doesn’t mean it was wrong.
The report of someone wearing a KKK robe near the college's Afrikan Heritage House was the final straw for school officials who had been dealing with a month long string of racial incidents on the campus. They quickly canceled classes in order to hold campus-wide events to discuss the matter, a decision that garnered national headlines yesterday.
Even if the KKK sighting turns out to have been a mistake, innocent or otherwise, it doesn't change the fact that the school has struggled in recent weeks to handle an outbreak of hate speech-related vandalism. According to the Oberlin Review, the student-run campus newspaper, there have been at least a half-dozen such incidents since early February, including the scrawling of "nigger" on Black History Month materials, writing "Whites Only" above a school water fountain, and drawing a swastika on an LGBTQ poster. Similar incidents were also reported on campus back in 2011. Still, it was clearly the reported KKK sighting, and not the vandalism, that left school officials feeling as though they had no choice but to take the drastic step of canceling classes.