Students describe seeing KKK-like statue at U. of Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Students describe seeing KKK-like statue at U. of Iowa

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IOWA CITY (KWWL) - For many students, a startling image was one of the first things they saw when they woke up. A statue that looked like a KKK member was displayed on the Pentacrest at the University of Iowa.

"500 veterans on campus here, LGBT are respected here, we shouldn't have to be at that point where black people aren't respected here," said Antonio Rodriguez, a student.

Serhat Tanyolacar teaches art classes on campus. He created the piece and put it up, saying he wanted to bring awareness to the issue of racism in the country.

"We avoid racism," said Tanyolacar. "We live with it every single day."

The university had the artist remove the piece because he didn't have permission to put it up.

A lot of people were offended.

"He said it was for an art project," said Chris Simpson, a student. "I just don't think it was appropriate, especially something so racially and historically offensive."

Even after learning why the statue had been up, students decided they wanted something done. Some, marched to the university president's office to make sure she knew that they do not accept the image, or the fact the artist felt a need to put it up

"There are kids in elementary school right now who passed by here and saw that," said Rodriguez. "They're thinking about that movie where the KKK was hanging them. That's why we're marching. To make sure there's transparency on what's going on here."

The University released the following statement:

"The University of Iowa is a diverse community with no tolerance for racism, and the artwork that was briefly displayed on the Pentacrest this morning was deeply offensive to members of our community. Because it was placed without permission, university officials directed the visiting artist who created it to remove it, which he did.

The University of Iowa considers all forms of racism abhorrent and is deeply committed to the principles of inclusion and acceptance. There is no room for divisive, insensitive, and intolerant displays on this campus.The display was not approved by nor sanctioned by the university. The UI respects freedom of speech, but the university is also responsible for ensuring that public discourse is respectful and sensitive."

The artist says he is hurt by the university's statement because he was trying to use the statue as a lesson and teaching is his job.
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