- Associated Press - Wednesday, November 2, 2016

YPSILANTI, Mich. (AP) - Students and faculty at Eastern Michigan University gathered Wednesday to protest what is at least the third time racist graffiti has been left on the campus this school year.

Hundreds of people rallied outside Ford Hall, where the latest graffiti was discovered Monday spray-painted on the building’s exterior, The Ann Arbor News reported (http://bit.ly/2eB0M2w ).

The university said the graffiti targeted African-Americans and was immediately removed. Eastern Michigan’s campus is in Ypsilanti, west of Detroit.

Wednesday’s rally followed an overnight sit-in by some black students at the school’s Student Center.

“We have to be honest about this. It’s not just graffiti,” Eastern Michigan freshman Taylor Amari Little said at the rally. “This was vandalism. This was a hate crime. This was terrorism.”

A number of protests have been held on and near the school’s campus, including one at an Eastern Michigan football game.

Students also marched late Tuesday before gathering at the Student Center, saying they will not be intimidated.

“The message is simple: We’re not going anywhere,” senior Demajae Muray said. “We’re not trying to cause chaos … we’re just standing up for our rights and what we believe in.”

University spokesman Geoff Larcom said the university supports the students’ right to protest, but that those who were in the Student Center after the 1 a.m. closing time are subject to the conditions of the student code and could be considered trespassers.

On Tuesday, school President Jim Smith announced the creation of the President’s Commission on Diversity and Inclusion, which will provide recommendations about studying the campus racial climate and identify programs that are helping.

Smith said in a statement that the vandalism is “hateful” and the school is working to foster respect, equity and inclusion.

The university has said a reward for information about similar graffiti that appeared in late September has been doubled to $10,000 and applies to the latest incident as well.

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