Racist message scratched into mural in Oscar Ritchie Hall


Anthony Scilla

Kent State’s Oscar Ritchie Hall, located on 225 Terrace Dr, Kent, OH.

Kaitlyn Finchler, Campus Editor

The letters “KKK” were scratched onto the forehead of a subject in a painted mural on the second floor of Oscar Ritchie Hall – the damage was reported to campus police on Jan. 18, but it’s unclear when the incident occurred.

The damage to the public art installation was noticed by a student before class. The student said in the police report that he was an art minor and “was admiring the mural up close” when he noticed the damage. He notified his professor after class and she called university police.

Kent State Police Sgt. Michquel Penn was the officer who responded to the complaint. She noted in her report the lighting in the hallway was dim. “The damage was visible to me only when using a flashlight,” she said in the report.

Each of the letters was approximately .75-inches tall and .75-inches wide. The three letters together spanned a total of 3-inches wide. The report said it appeared the first “K” was scratched into the canvas of the painting, while the two others appeared to be scratched into the paint.

The university architect’s office was contacted after the vandalism about making possible repairs to the painting.

“What we do know is that vandalism, particularly when it involves hateful and racist words or symbols, and the people who carry it out have no place in our values-based Kent State community,” said Mark Polatajko, senior vice president for finance and administration, in an email sent today to the Kent State University community.

In the Kent State Police daily log, there are two incidents listed at Oscar Ritchie Hall, including one of ethnic intimidation and one for criminal damage that occurred on Jan. 17.

Editor’s note: Calls to the student and professor were unsuccessful at the time of publication.

Kaitlyn Finchler is a campus editor. Contact her at [email protected].