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News :: Human Rights
Stop racism at UMass
29 Sep 2004
Protest racism at UMass and a brief history of the Klan. Call U.S. adminstrators now!
Statement issued September 28, 2004
Western Mass International Action Center
wmassiac (at);
(413) 538-8537;

Hands off ALANA!

Money for jobs, childcare, education, healthcare, and housing not racism!

Over the past few days pictures depicting senior student government members drinking in a student government office while posing with caricatures depicting racist Ku Klux Klan symbolism has been rightly denounced in various ways and this should continue. This atrocious act by these students is but the most extreme result of the policies of the UMass administration which has cultivated an institutionally racist environment.

The Ku Klux Klan, a terrorist organization, was first organized at the end of the Civil War outside of Pulaski, Tennessee. Its principle leader was Nathan Bedford Forrest, a former slave trader and a general in the Confederate Army who oversaw the massacre of 300 Black soldiers at Fort Pillow.

The Klan is often portrayed as poor, ignorant whites consumed by race hatred, but the class character of the organization is clear from its own name. “Ku Klux” is a derivative of the Greek word “kuklos,” meaning circle. This wasn’t a bunch of poor folks. Its leadership was drawn from a small minority of Southern whites, the five percent of the population who had owned slaves or others who directly profited from slavery.

The Klan was created as a secret organization to try and terrorize the newly free Black population under Reconstruction as well as poorer white farmers and workers who might welcome the end of the plantation system. Through lynchings, burnings, rapes and the most hideous forms of torture and mutilations, the Klan acted as an extra-legal criminal arm of the re-emerging Southern governments to prevent the establishment of a new social order in the South, one based on racial justice and equality. As a result the South remained for many years a bastion of both extreme racial oppression and low wages for all workers, a legacy that still survives today.

The late 19 teens saw a resurgence in Klan activity and organization, often directed against the emerging labor movement and many other progressive organizations. Thousands of robed Klansmen marched openly, not only in the South but in Northern cities as well, including Washington D.C during arch-segregationist and rabidly anti-union President Woodrow Wilson’s tenure.

The Klan holds no answers for white working people. They can’t reopen a single shuttered factory, build a single new school, open a new health clinic or stop wars that devastate working people. But they can use the problems of poverty, unemployment, lack of educational opportunities and despair to try and turn whites against Blacks, native-born against immigrants, straights against lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgendered people. That’s their role in society. They try to turn the anger and frustration of white workers away from the bosses, the bankers, the police and the landlords and direct it toward other victims of the economic system. That’s why in times of social turmoil they are funded and financed by the wealthy to divide working people and prevent the unity and solidarity we need to fight back.

Although the Klan today is splintered into various factions and numerically small it is always there ready to grow when the right financial backers appear, when the political powers-that-be decide the time is right. When social tensions grow, when the police, the courts and the prisons are not enough to keep the working class and especially communities of color from demanding justice, the Klan and their kindred organizations like the World Church of the Creator are revived.

It was only the militant labor and anti-racist movements of the Thirties that were able to turn back the racist tide then and at various times since. The previous battles were fought with a deep understanding of the slogan “an injury to one is an injury to all.” This is what it’ll take now and in the future.

We pledge our unity and solidarity and stand with ALANA, LGBT, women and all students fighting the UMass administration’s attacks on all progressive organizations and struggles.

***The administration must be held accountable for its institutional racism where this example is but the most recent manifestation. From the highest levels the UMass Amherst administration and the UMass System president’s office has mobilized to relentlessly attack students of color and other marginalized students dismantling affirmative action programs, removing advising programs for students of color and under funding or not funding at all support services for lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender students and women.

Future actions will be forthcoming but for now


John V. Lombardi, Chancellor
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-2211
lombardi (at)

Jack M. Wilson, President, University of Massachusetts System
One Beacon St. 26th Floor
Boston, MA 02108
(617) 287-7050
jwilson (at)

Michael Gargano Jr., Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs and Campus Life
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-2333
dunk (at)

Charles Dimare, Director of Student Legal Services
University of Massachusetts
Amherst, MA 01003
(413) 545-1995
cdimare (at)


Controversy continues for UMass over SGA photos

By Julie O'Donnell

Daily Collegian Staff
September 27, 2004

University of Massachusetts Vice Chancellor of Student Affairs and Campus Life Michael Gargano and President of the Student Government Association Eduardo Bustamante plan to remove from office the individuals pictured in controversial photographs posted on the Internet and push for a further investigation in order to press criminal charges.

The nine students photographed last March drinking alcohol in front of a caricature of a Ku Klux Klan Grand Wizard in the Student Center for Educational Research and Advocacy office could face a variety of criminal charges, according to Gargano.

According to Gargano, the investigation is "well underway" with the aid of University lawyers.

"We are going to charge the students with everything," he said, "[the charges] will include the misuse of private property, underage drinking - we are going to look at who they bought the alcohol from, and there is an investigation of the symbol that reflects racism and hate."

Gargano recognizes that he has the authority to punish these individuals an array of measures; however, he has not chosen any one action to bring against them yet.

"I have the authority to remove these people from office," he said. "I could give them 500 hours of community service, have them conduct an open forum discussion; I have a variety of sanctions at my disposal. I'm not ruling out dismissal."

Gargano stated that he is still waiting for more pictures to be revealed and urging the person who found Student Coordinator Brian Roberts' Web site to come forward. The unknown subject allegedly copied the original website and posted it in a memo sent out by the ALANA caucus Saturday.

Gargano formally announced that he believes that it is ethically right for the subjects involved to call it upon themselves to resign.

"I think that it is appropriate for all students to consider resigning," he said. "No one so far has said that they're resigning."

Both Gargano and SGA President Eduardo Bustamante said that they hope this will bring a positive look to the upcoming Senate elections this Wednesday and Thursday.

"I hope this will have a positive effect and encourage students to run for office and get involved," Gargano said. "It's important that students ask questions and find out where the [candidates] stand on the real issues."

Gargano wants a debate-style forum to aid students and candidates to get to know each other and the issues at stake. Bustamante hopes this incident to result in more student voting.
"I expect to see a bigger student turnout than ever," Bustamante said. "It is crucial that we speak out, and I really want to express that this is a big opportunity for the student body to step it up."

During a meeting last night, Bustamante and Gargano agreed that change is imminent in the UMass community.

"I want to stress that this isn't about the alcohol; it is about the culture that related the images. We were talking about the change that has to happen on the culture of this campus," Bustamante said. "I want to stress that it is not the individual students, but their behavior and that they felt that it was acceptable to act that way - they will definitely be removed."

Bustamante talked about a "New Era of the SGA" and that this is the end of an old one.

"I am questioning how to exercise my executive authority within SCERA," he said. "Everything will be really concise - I am going to do everything to remove this from SGA."

Bustamante referred to not only the removal of the nine photographed but also to the removal of the potentially discriminatory culture on campus.

"Racism is a world-wide problem, it is not acceptable and no one should find it acceptable to joke about," he said, eager to start a new environment on campus. "SGA started a new era when I got elected, and this is a call to us [the students] to step it up."

Bustamante plans to address the campus community today at a press conference at 4:30 p.m. in Dukes Room, where he will have a logistical strategy to remove the nine subjects.
Legally, he recognizes that he cannot force the resignation of potential senators running in this week's Senate elections, but he can request the removal of hired positions like Speaker and Associate Speaker.

The Web site that contained the pictures belonging to Brian Roberts was dismantled this past July; however, according to Coordinating Council member Pavel Payano, the Web site was still running last week.

"If I had only known about this in July," Payano said. "It's not like we've been planning it."
According to Payano, Roberts' Web site crashed sometime between Friday evening and early Saturday morning after the SCERA Student Coordinator was made aware that the pictures had been circulating.

SGA Speaker Patrick Higgins, who was photographed several times, told The Massachusetts Daily Collegian on Sunday that the site had been taken down in July and that someone must have been in possession of the pictures since then.

Neither Higgins nor Roberts have been available for clarification.

(c) 2004 The Daily Collegian

-- END --
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Re: Stop racism at UMass
29 Sep 2004
They've already made a step in the right direction, by getting rid of affirmative action. Affirmative action is racism, plain and simple.
Re: Stop racism at UMass
30 Sep 2004
Its amazing that they can get this much attention out of a little markerboard scribble. No proof that they even drew it. This is protest inflation writ large.