Dr Joseph Lee, a senior lecturer in the Law School, has confirmed that he was the owner of the anti-racist poster that was vandalised in December last year.
Dr Lee, who is BAME, identifies as an immigrant Asian academic. He discovered the vandalism upon returning to work on 5 December after the 2019 strike action that unfolded between November and December.
The poster appeared as if someone had stamped on it. The shoe imprint was still visible on the door, which was stained with a muddy brown liquid.
There was no CCTV outside Dr Lee’s office, and so the perpetrators remain at large.
Dr Lee said “My initial thought was – who did it, and what message did that person try to convey to me?”
Dr Lee took a photograph and contacted Professor Wendy Robinson, Executive Dean of College of Social Sciences & International Studies, as well as Professor Richard Moorhead, the Head of the School.
Professor Moorhead offered to relocate Dr Lee’s office to a more central part of the school where there were more people. Lee did not accept the offer.
He explained: “After thinking about it over the weekend and talking to some of my friends who have a bit of knowledge in racist incidents, the best way is not to relocate, as that may show that you are afraid of them.”
I decided the best way is not to relocate, as that may show that you are afraid of themDr. Joseph Lee
Dr Lee later reported the vandalism as a hate crime to the police over the weekend.
He said “The police replied and they came onto the premises to speak to me about it. They immediately identified it as criminal damage.
“The police suggested that I did not take down the poster completely, because that shows that you fear them, and that they have succeeded. They suggested that I put up a clean version and see if they do it again. I followed that advice and that was very helpful.”
One faculty member photocopied the vandalised poster and stuck the copies onto the doors of other law school academics.
This, Dr Lee says, was to show “to the perpetrators that we aren’t being defeated by their actions.”
He continued: “I was unsure whether I should take down the poster and not to pursue anything, but my colleague said if you’re not pursuing it for yourself as a victim, at least you should think about other colleagues who may be victims.”
Dr Lee said he asked the University to liaise with the police and to provide the investigators with information on similar racist incidents.
“It’s not that we were hiding the incident – whether it should have been publicised more is obviously something to look at.”Professor Tim Quine
Dr Lee approached Exeposé after he read an interview with Professor Tim Quine, the Deputy Vice-Chancellor for Education, which featured a discussion of the Law School graffiti at Amory.
At the time, Professor Quine did not mention Dr Lee, but clarified the University’s stance against racism on campus.
Professor Quine stated “fundamentally, we are against any expression of any forms of racism. You’ll have seen how we work with the Provost commission.”
When asked whether the University failed to make enough people aware of the vandalism, Professor Quine responded: “An email had gone out from the Head of the School to over a thousand or so law students about the incident that had taken place.
“I think it is important for students to know these incidents happen and to know that it is wrong vandalise an anti-racist posterDr Joseph Lee
“It’s not that we were hiding the incident – whether it should have been publicised more is obviously something to look at.”
Dr Lee is also a member of the Race Equality group and has provided the University with the crime reference number and the phone number of the police.
Dr Lee said “I think it is important for students to know these incidents happen and to know that it is wrong vandalise an anti-racist poster. It’s the wrong thing to do.
“It is our duty as an institution to communicate that message to the students for educational purposes, in addition to maintaining and protecting students’ wellbeing and safety.”
Although Dr Lee is thankful for the support of his department, the lecturer is still unsure what compelled the vandals to deface his anti-racist poster.
“I don’t know what the motive is here, and still don’t know: are they targeting me, as an immigrant Asian lecturer, who is part of the Race Equality Group and was involved with organising events for Black History Month? Or were they targeting my community?”
Editor: Ellie Cook