Last week the Muslim Student Union at Saddleback College received an e-mail threatening its members. Carmenmara Hernandez-Bravo, the group’s adviser, notified campus police.
“Get the hell out of our country and school’s [sic],” said the e-mail. “As we know, you are our enemy and we are at war with Islam and Muslims!”
The e-mail explained that the sender would come with Homeland Security leaders to scan license plates and run identity checks. The senders also stated how they were hopeful that some of the members’ student visas would be illegal.
The MSU had planned to host an event featuring guest speaker DJ Halal, at the time the e-mail was received.
Hernandez-Bravo searched through last year’s last meeting sign-in sheet for any potential hate-mail senders. She said they have names of who may have sent the e-mail.
At this time, the sender has not been identified.
“It’s an open investigation,” campus Police Chief Harry Parmer said. “There’s one investigator assigned, [the situation] is currently being looked at.”
Parmer said there was a response e-mail sent by a member of the MSU in which “language was included” that could give rise to a “potential for conflict.”
However, Parmer doesn’t believe conflict will arise, but the campus police will make sure they have the ability to keep peace on campus.
“No previous hate crimes have occurred as long as I’ve been here,” said Parmer. “And that’s 19 years.”
Parmer said there would be no consequences for the hate-mail sender because even though the message was threatening, it’s still free speech.
The First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution protects free speech. In a 1942 precendent-setting case, Chaplinsky v. New Hampshire, the U.S. Supreme Court determined that insulting or “fighting words” must “by their very utterance, inflict injury or tend to incite an immediate breach of the peace.”
This particular case does not have enough information to gage as particularly dangerous, Parmer said. “There’s a lot of third party information.”
The event itself was postponed, though not because of the hate-mail, but that the Muslim Student Union is not yet a club on campus. The event will be relocated to off-campus, Parmer said.
“[The Muslim Student Union] wanted to talk about keeping Islamic identity on campus,” said Hernandez-Bravo.
The Diversity Student Council hopes to attend the future event to show their support of the MSU. “It’s a minority stepping out and saying these things,” said Erin Long, InterClub Council adviser. “But it would be cool if we could come to show our support.”