Reports of a poop swastika drawn in the bathroom of a dorm at the University of Missouri came into question this week in the wake of the university president’s resignation, but a police report appears to debunk the conspiracy theory that’s been spreading on the internet.
The swastika, reportedly drawn using feces, was part of a series of incidents that inflamed racial tensions in Missouri. A group of black students had spoken out about the racism they faced on campus, and as protests built and pressure mounted on President Tim Wolfe, some began to question whether the swastika incident really even happened.
One of the main sources of the poop swastika hoax theory was a conservative website known as the Federalist. The site cast doubt on the claim, with writer Sean Davis trying to find an answer from police or university administrators.
Davis quoted a letter from Billy Donley, the president of Mizzou’s Residence Halls Association (RHA), about the incident
“On Saturday, October 24th, at 2:00am an individual came into one of the restrooms in Gateway Hall and drew a swastika on the wall with their own feces,” Donley wrote. “This event happened while many students, including myself, were already asleep.”
But Davis wrote that Donley never saw the swastika himself. The story made strong suggestions that the entire incident may have been faked.
“While a mere absence of evidence is not synonymous with evidence of absence, the complete lack of any verifiable photographic evidence of the alleged poop swastika and the lack of any named eye witnesses raises serious questions about the veracity of a racially charged incident of vandalism that eventually led to the resignation of the University of Missouri’s two top administrators.”
The conspiracy theory took hold from there, with many sites claiming that the poop swastika was indeed a fake.
But Sean Davis and the Federalist apparently forgot one very simple step — checking the police report. Chuck Ross, a reporter with the Daily Caller, was able to obtain that police report and found that there was indeed a swastika scrawled in feces on a dorm room bathroom.
“[The police report] shows that a university police officer responded to a call at 2:12 a.m. from members of the residential services staff. The staffers’ names and identifying information is redacted. A third person who name is redacted is listed as a victim on the report.
“The officer reported that he entered a co-ed bathroom on the third floor of the residential hall and observed a small swastika drawn with feces.”
The allegations that the swastika was a hoax came as others have cast doubt on the claims of Missouri’s protesting students. Others noted that past instances of racism — including students who claim they had the n-word yelled out to them — were questioned as many students did not reach out to police.
The situation became even more muddled when Missouri’s student body president, Payton Head, posted a message about KKK members invading the campus. It was Head’s viral Facebook post about being called a racial slur that gave rise to the protest, and his post about the KKK gained national attention.
It turns out that was untrue, and Head later apologized.
— Alec Lewis (@alec_lewis) November 11, 2015
Some have used the incident to cast doubt on other claims of the protesters, but other events have turned out to be genuine as well, including a recent threat of violence posted social media.
Police have not identified a suspect in the poop swastika drawn at the University of Missouri.
[Picture by Michael B. Thomas/Getty Images]