'Hate group tagging' prompts NKU to boost security, surveillance to 'Watch the Rock'

HIGHLAND HEIGHTS, Ky. — Northern Kentucky University is ramping up its security around key areas of its campus after a local group paid multiple overnight visits to leave white supremacist messaging on school grounds, including the defacement of a monument celebrating students of color. In an email Tuesday to the university community, vice president for student affairs, Dr. Eddie Howard said he has asked for increased police patrols around the Housing Rock, a well-known installation outside Norse Commons that students found defaced in January by the white nationalist group, Patriot Front, in light of “recent developments of a known white supremacist hate group tagging our campus.”

He also called for a 24-hour web camera live-stream — called “Watch the Rock” — to monitor activity in the area. When they found the graffiti in January, in response, students covered the group’s graffiti with a mural depicting and celebrating students of color and their roles at the university. But Saturday morning, they woke to find the rock defaced again, with white Xs painted across the faces of Black students in the mural.

Someone also painted the Patriot Front logo and posted stickers on nearby lamp posts and other fixtures.

Emily Gibney/WCPOMaintenance crews covered the defaced rock outside of Norse Commons Saturday morning, April 3, 2021.

The Southern Poverty Law Center defines Patriot Front as a white nationalist hate group that broke from Vanguard America in the aftermath of the deadly “Unite the Right” rally in Charlottesville, Virginia, in 2017. “I invite the entire campus community to help us protect our campus. If you see something, say something,” Howard said, adding he hopes to have the “Watch the Rock” camera live “within the next couple of days, if not sooner.”

Howard also directed the university’s Center for Student Inclusiveness to develop an incident response plan and guidelines for how to move forward. Patriot Front has also left stickers and graffiti on Xavier University’s campus on multiple occasions this year, including over the weekend. “I think people need to understand ‘white supremacist’ means they hate African Americans,” said first-year NKU student, Jeffrey Huston. “They will do anything.

These people kill African Americans.

NKU has a very large community of African Americans.

That is a very big deal.”

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