By The Gatepost Editorial Board
Eight decals belonging to Patriot Front, an organization recognized by the Anti-Defamation League as a white supremacy group, were placed around campus Dec. 9, 2021.
According to a June 13 community-wide email from former President F. Javier Cevallos, Alex Beilman, 28, of Meriden, Connecticut, Brian Harwood, 24, of Spencer, Massachusetts, and Matthew Smaller, 24, of Maynard, Massachusetts were arraigned in Framingham District Court for the placement of these decals.
Though these individuals had no association with Framingham State, they were all “alleged members of the white supremacy group connected to the stickers,” according to the email.
Just as Cevallos did in his email, we at The Gatepost would like to thank University Police Chief John Santoro and Detective Gene Westerlind for their work in tracking down these individuals and bringing them to justice.
The actions of these three individuals are inexcusable and brought unwarranted hate to our campus.
This was a nearly impossible case because of the inital lack of evidence.
Additionally, the University Police Department has been facing staffing shortages for some time now.
It took an admirable level of expertise and commitment.
We understand the work that needed to be put into this investigation and the number of law enforcement officials who were also involved at the local, state, and federal levels.
The dedication to this case is reflective of the University Police Department’s commitment to upholding Framingham State’s values and helping move the University toward becoming an anti-racist institution.
These incidents were harmful to our BIPOC community members and kept them from feeling safe on our campus.
The December incident was the third time the Patriot Front made its presence known on campus.
It is a relief to see progress made in stopping these individuals.
We hope to see investigations continue into the two other incidents. However, we also hope the results of this investigation serve as a warning and deter those with similar intentions in the future.
What was accomplished through this investigation confirms the importance of not giving up or giving into hate.
Our community members of color matter and they deserved to see these men face the consequences of their actions.
With the continued rise in radical white right-wing extremism, it is more important now than ever that we do not waver in our stance against hate.
We as a University may sometimes feel powerless in stopping the bigotry occurring nationally, but we can do our part to stop it within our own community.
Therefore, we thank the University Police for their part in supporting FSU’s anti-racism efforts, but we should not forget this work is not done.
There is still much to do both on this campus and within our University Police Department to ensure everyone feels safe and welcome.
When Santoro became the new chief of police, a policy review was initiated focusing on improving the perception of the police, building trust with the community, allowing officers to get to know students outside of calls, hosting more listening sessions, and becoming more transparent with how the department operates.
We expect Santoro to keep these promises and want to see changes made sooner rather than later.
Tracking down the individuals who vandalized our campus was a great success, but building greater trust between University Police and the community is just as important.
The policies and actions of our police department need to be racially just, and the makeup of our force should be representative of our University’s population.
This work is vital to support our community members of color and the values of our University.
Thank you, University Police, for ensuring there is never a place for hate at Framingham State.