It's interesting to note that while the Tempe police regularly coordinate with the FBI to spy on activists, and place department critics on "hazard" watch lists, they are willing to provide police protection to a fraternity with a history of racism and violence. Nor is this the first time the police have come to the aid of ASU's fraternities during a racist outburst. As noted in our previous piece on the violent, racist, and sexist frat culture at ASU, the gangster themed MLK party hosted by TKE members has a historical precedent in the racist actions of campus frats of the past.
As Michael Lacey reported in his Phoenix New Times article on the April 1989 race riot on frat row, the frats faced no consequences from their 500 strong attack on four black students, whom drunk Greeks and party-goers surrounded and pilloried with anti-black racist epithets, in what turned out to be a case of mistaken identity.
Indeed it was two of the attacked black students who were taken in handcuffs to the police station, and one of the men detained by the police recalled the cruelty of police officers during his detention, reporting that his "handcuffs were so tight that he was in pain as he sat in the back of the squad car." And that "[a]s he shifted positions, he remembered an officer warning him that if he moved again, the cuffs would be tightened until tears came to his eyes." Lacey also documented the efforts of ASU police to downplay any racist elements of the attack, as the national press cooperated by not reporting on the scale of the attack and the racism of the students present.
The offer of police protection for TKE members is not the only troubling news since the expulsion of the ASU chapter, as more racist skeletons in the TKE closet emerged despite the national organization's attempt at sanitizing their image. After Arizona State University announced on Thursday that the Tau Kappa Epsilon (TKE) fraternity would be expelled from campus, the national TKE fraternity announced its support for the ASU chapter. The national body followed the announcement of expulsion by putting the frat on internal probation, placing the blame for the party on 16 of the chapter's 125 members, and offering to provide a "a professional program on cultural diversity" or something.
The tone of the national TKE is at odds with the efforts of the supporters of the ASU chapter, who created a "SAVE Arizona State University Tau Kappa Epsilon" to rally support for the troubled chapter. However, the support did not arrive in the way that the backers might have hoped. A Facebook user named Micheal King, who claimed to be a TKE alumni, posted a racist frat party photo (see below) of two men in a stereotypical gangster attire, and in black face, with the following text:
Full support on the issues of freedom of speech and expressing controversial opinions and ideas. Save our consititutional rights. here’s a pics from 1990 at Kent state univ. when TKE was allowed to express our rights. if the university or TKE nationals causes you problems, ,seek independent legal advise.
More throwback, 1990, Who is that dark skinned brother on the left ? . Kent State , TKE fraternity party, back when we were allowed to express ourselves. damn, times have changed for the worse. [sic]
The post has since been removed from the Facebook page. Meanwhile, the official message from the exclusive organization, that "[t]he poor taste and acts of a few are not reflective of the whole" continued to look more and more ridiculous. As thegloss.com writer Julia Sonenshein noted, 'TKE clicked “like”' on the black face photo.