The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) is investigating racial threats against Latino students that began on Halloween night and recently escalated to warnings about "the beginning of our rape season."
University of Chicago junior Vincente Perez told WMAQ that the threatening behavior began on Halloween night when he saw white students participating in a mock beating of students who were dressed as Mexican stereotypes. Photos of the incident were later uploaded to Facebook.
“The pictures not only involved the individuals in the costumes but also kind of made light of police brutality,” Perez recalled.
In response to that incident, Perez joined with other students and faculty to launch a petition calling for more training on racial insensitivity.
But he said that the threats only escalated after that. Most recently, someone hacked one of his friend's Facebook pages with a warning: “Vincente you are next. None of your profiles are safe. This is the beginning of our rape season.”
“I was very literally scared to leave my house,” Perez noted.
In a statement, the university insisted that the threat was "unacceptable and violates our core values."
“Anonymous and personal attacks that are hateful, threatening, and target people’s identity do not constitute discourse and deserve our strongest condemnation,” the statement said. "We will pursue criminal prosecution, and if the individual is a member of our community we will pursue disciplinary action, up to and including expulsion or termination of employment. Getting answers to these questions may be difficult, but regardless of the outcome we must engage in active discussion about the impact of these attacks on our campus.”
For his part, Perez said that he appreciated the university's statement, but it didn't go far enough.
"We need to see action," Perez observed.
Watch the video below from WMAQ, broadcast Nov. 20, 2014.