MINNEAPOLIS (WCCO) — A student group’s mural on the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus has ignited conversation and controversy.

The U of M College Republicans group painted a mural yesterday in the group’s designated spot along the Washington Avenue Bridge.

Dozens of student groups paint murals along the inside walls of the pedestrian level of the bridge every fall.

This group’s read in part “Build The Wall,” which refers to presidential candidate Donald Trump’s proposal to build a wall along the U.S.-Mexico border.
The sign was later vandalized with the words “Stop White Supremacy.”

(credit: CBS)

(credit: CBS)

Multicultural groups who did not support the vandalism later gathered to protest what they called “anti-immigrant” hate speech.

“There’s freedom of speech but then there’s hate speech. It’s one thing to be conservative and it’s another thing to be saying these things that are clearly xenophobic and targeting specific groups of people,” Guillermo Perez said.

Perez is a member of Sigma Lambda Beta, a Latino-based multicultural fraternity that happens to have the panel next to the College Republicans.

“I was really angry, angry because it’s an attack to my people because I am Mexican,” Perez said.

The group responded using its own panel, which said, “Building bridges, not walls.”

“We’re trying to seek, at the very least, an apology and recognition that what they did was wrong,” Perez said.

U of M President Eric Kaler said while some may find the initial message offensive it is protected speech and should not have been vandalized.
He released a statement saying:

“During the annual ‘Paint the Bridge’ event, an opportunity for registered student groups and University departments to promote their groups by painting a panel on the Washington Avenue Bridge, one panel assigned to a student group has received attention. The panel includes the phrase from Donald Trump’s presidential campaign, ‘Build the wall.’ While this is protected as free, political speech, we have heard from members of our community who find the phrase hurtful, offensive, anti-immigrant, and anti-Latinx.

“People in our community may disagree with the sentiment expressed. However, while the University values free speech, the subsequent vandalism of the panel is not the way to advance a conversation.

“The University of Minnesota supports a campus climate that welcomes all members of our community and our values of equity and diversity, but that also ensures the free flow of ideas, even those that are offensive to some. As students and our community participate in responses to this and future issues, I urge all of us to be respectful and thoughtful in our approach. We encourage all who find some protected speech distasteful or offensive to engage in more protected speech.”

The College Republicans also released a statement Saturday.

“We find it highly disturbing that someone would vandalize a simple statement such as ‘build the wall’.

“We have received comments on the painting, falsely accusing us of being racist, xenophobic, and anti-immigrant. Our party’s nominee supports building a wall on the Mexican border to stop the flow of illegal immigrants into this country. We understand that some students may disagree with this policy position. However, free speech is at the center of a functioning democracy, and the actions taken against our panels run contrary to free speech. It’s worth noting that numerous politicians from both parties support building a wall on the Mexican border.

“President Obama, Vice-President Biden, Secretary Clinton, and Minnesota Governor Dayton have all supported building a wall on the Mexican border while they were U.S. Senators (Secure Fence Act of 2006). We look forward to students writing angry letters and reporting these Democrat politicians to the Bias Incident System for hurting their feelings as well.

“Regardless of how one feels about border security or Mr. Donald J. Trump, it is never acceptable to infringe on other people’s freedom of speech. University policy clearly states, ‘Any alteration(s) to any panel by any person(s) outside of these designated time(s) is considered vandalism and subject to University Policy and/or local, state and federal laws.’

“We appreciate President Kaler’s statement of support for our freedom of speech and we expect the university to continue to uphold their commitment to freedom of speech and diversity of thought.”

Comments (23)
  1. ttt says:

    Got edited by a left wing news org. Lets try again. It’s only free speech if you agree with the left. GFY

    1. Dan Mack says:

      Yes, that’s how it works here in the Socialist Village. If you change your mind and wish to place a few dozen votes for Hillary, we remind you that there is No- ID required. We trust you. Vote early and vote often.

  2. D from EP says:

    At EPHS, a somali-american group vandalized with profanities the signs of the young republicans. No punishment and no news. Why not?? Either both are wrong or they aren’t . . .

  3. Arrest and prosecute for destruction of State property. Those lawless thugs. Deport them back to Marine of St. Criox.

  4. Daniel says:

    all these hateful posts and hateful signs are the things you learned about in history class! You thought to yourself “well, ain’t my problem – that happened way back when”. It’s 2016. If you want to spread hate without opening the door to communication, there is no room for your bigoted attitude in 2016. Loving your neighbor is not a liberal idea, if anything it’s a Christian idea, something many of these bigots claim to be.

    Decent Americans

    1. G Washington says:

      There are most likely more, that do not consider the sign to be controversial. In fact, Chronicles. 14:7

  5. Rob says:

    Why is free speech controversial?

    The sign is not anti-immigrant. It is anti-ILLEGAL-immigrant.

    The media, as usual, deliberately muddies the water.

    Liberals hate free speech.

      1. ***** says:

        i second that…
        Bravo College Republicans!!!!

        -keep up the effort of free speech both ways and support of anti illegals and
        anti- lawlessness…theres still hope for this country yet after reading this!

  6. I wonder if the Canadians are just as upset.

  7. Freedom of speech, not hate!! The people that oppose it are sooooo ignorant!

  8. NonLib says:

    Oh the shame of it all – not agreeing with the socialists is so wrong and no longer permitted.
    YOU MUST SUPPORT THEM _ even if it’s supporting a FUDGE PACKER that we all know is wrong and not natural

  9. THE SCOUT! says:

    The only Haters are the FACIST students who destroy what they do not believe

  10. Fred says:

    I am sure glad I don’t live in that hate filled liberal toilet called Minneapolis where murder and other crime is the nightly entertainment.

  11. Ellen says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with enforcing borders. No borders no country. It’s really pretty simple.
    Build the wall!

  12. Brandon says:

    If only they would have pray painted over the fact that they spelt College wrong… “Collge”

    1. S strand says:

      It could have been the cc0 reporter that offered to help, and wrote collge, so they could write this article. What I find to be controversial, is the current generation that doesn’t have a clue of this Country’s history, and therefore, think in tunnel vision. Life here, really did matter before you. Why don’t you all go over to countries that are murdering their citizens every day, and start lecturing them? By the way, the people that Marched with MLK were dressed in their Sunday best, were articulate, and for the most part, law abiding citizens.

  13. M Jay says:

    If I break into your house, eat your food and sleep in your bed, that does not make me part of your family. Read Mexico’s anti immigration laws. They are Brutal. Wake up liberal students. This is America. We are a nation of LAWS not Opinions.