On Monday night a flyer that read “Imagine a Muslim-Free America,” was posted on the wall of the Paul Robeson Cultural Center (PRCC), which houses a designated prayer room for Muslim students, according to authorities.
The bottom of the flyer identifies American Vanguard, a white supremacy group that claims “America is under attack,” according to the group’s website.
The Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) responded to a report of an offensive flyer at the PRCC at approximately 5:26 p.m. on Monday, said Executive Director of Public Safety Kenneth Cop in an email.
“The flyer was removed and information was forwarded to the Middlesex County Prosecutors Office for review,” he said. “The posting of the flyer remains under investigation and Public Safety patrols have been increased in the area.”
The same poster outside of the PRCC was also found at seven universities in Texas as part of an anti-immigration campaign, according to NJ Advance Media.
“The contents of the flyer, which was also posted elsewhere nationwide, violates the values and ideals for which Rutgers stands,” said a Rutgers University spokesperson in an email. “We strongly condemn this speech and are appalled that our Muslim community was targeted in this way.”
In an email sent to The Daily Targum last month, a Mason Gross School of the Arts junior reported finding similar flyers on the ravine bridge between the Rehearsal Hall and the Art History Hall on Douglass campus. The source requested anonymity out of fear for his safety after being seen removing posters by members of the group.
“I noticed the fliers (sic) posted to the windows of the bridge and began taking them down once I realized what they were, because they made me angry,” he said. “Then three white males walked by, maybe in their early 20s. While I was taking the fliers (sic) down, the one in the black coat randomly said to me, ‘Don’t worry, they’ll be back up.’”
He said that he brought the flyers to the Public Safety building where he was received by an officer who allowed him to take photos of the flyers and kept the flyers as evidence on file for investigation.
RUPD kept in touch with the source and he later learned that the case was sent to the Middlesex County Prosecutor’s Office, where it was deemed not to be a crime, he said.
According to a Facebook post by the Center for Islamic Life at Rutgers University (CILRU), two vice chancellors, a director and other members of the RUPD contacted the group saying they will protect the University’s students and community.
Kaiser Aslam, the Muslim chaplain at the CILRU and author of the Facebook post, said RUPD called him about increasing security at the PRCC for an event held that night and another event being held Thursday.
Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Felicia McGinty and Sherry Wolf, senior organizer at the Rutgers American Association of University Professors–American Federation of Teachers (AAUP-AFT), have been monitoring the incident to ensure that everything is reported correctly, he said.
He said that as far as he is aware, there is no New Jersey branch of the American Vanguard.
“I would be very, very shocked and surprised if it was a Rutgers student, this isn’t something we’ve seen from the Rutgers communities,” Aslam said. “And also the nature of it popping up on more than one campus makes me think this is from an outside organization.”
Aslam said he feels that Rutgers coming forward and saying this is something that should not happen and that it is not representative of the school is a good first step for reducing Islamaphobia on campus.
He said that whoever put up the posters should get to know the Muslim community.
“Go to a mosque, talk to a couple Muslims, have dinner with them and find that your fears are completely unfounded,” Aslam said.
Alexandra DeMatos is a School of Arts and Sciences junior double-majoring in journalism and media studies and women's and gender studies. She is the editor-in-chief of The Daily Targum