The White Student Union plans nighttime patrols on the Towson University campus near Baltimore to protect students from crimes it says are committed mostly by blacks.
A "pro-white" group at Towson University plans nighttime patrols on the Maryland campus to protect students from what its leader calls a "black crime wave" — something the university says doesn't exist.
The White Student Union said members will go out in groups of four — three men and one woman — two or three nights a week to try and deter crime.
"This isn’t about being paramilitary organization, it's about trying to help the campus community," the group's founder, 21-year-old senior Matthew Heimbach, told MSN News on Tuesday.
The White Student Union has been labeled a "white nationalist" hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center but Heimbach said his organization does not espouse hate or white supremacy. Heimbach, who calls himself the group's "commander," described the group as "pro-white." On its website, the group says its mission is to "create an avenue for people to participate in political, cultural, educational, and social events to celebrate European heritage."
"We're not haters. We have publicly come out and denounced Nazism," Heimbach said.
"I would just consider us as a community and cultural outreach group."
The White Student Union has more than 50 members and has done some campus patrol "dry runs," Heimbach said. The group plans to start formal patrols next week. Patrol members won't have weapons but the men will carry Maglite flashlights and the women, pepper spray, he said.
Heimbach said alerts sent out by campus police indicate that most violent crimes on campus are committed by young black men. In a blog post last week under the headline "Black Crime Wave Continues!" Heimbach wrote:
"For those who are not Towson students it seems hard to fathom that every single day black predators prey upon the majority white Towson University student body. White Southern men have long been called to defend their communities when law enforcement and the State seem unwilling to protect our people."
Towson University is a public university of about 22,000 students located in suburban Towson, Md., about eight miles north of Baltimore.
Towson’s ‘White Student Union’ to conduct nighttime ‘patrols’ on campus
The Towson University Police Department, which patrols the campus, and its chief, Bernard Gerst, did not respond to requests for comment from MSN News and referred all inquiries to the university.
Gay Pinder, a university spokeswoman who said she was also speaking on behalf of the university police department, told MSN News in an emailed statement Tuesday that Towson is one of the safest campuses in the University System of Maryland. "In its last published report Towson University had the lowest crime statistics per capita in 2011 (Part 1-UCR statistics) among the USM campuses. In fact, despite our enrollment increase of 2.31 percent our total violent crime in 2012 was down 37.5 percent over the prior year," Pinder said.
Pinder's statement added: "We do not encourage the general public to take the law into their own hands for both their personal safety and legal protection."
The statement went on to say that the Towson University Police Department would be "increasing its presence on campus during the evening hours" to ensure that "the entire campus community continues to feel safe and comfortable."
In a follow-up email Wednesday, Pinder said campus crimes are not tracked by race and gender and "there is no evidence that people are victims of crime as a result of their race."
Crimes alerts issued by university police do contain suspect descriptions — but not all those crimes happen on campus, Pinder said. Heimbach referenced these crime alerts in his blog post.
Blacks make up about 18 percent of the student population at Towson.
The Black Student Union at Towson University also declined comment on Heimbach's assertions and referred calls to the university.
Heimbach said his group did not consult with campus police about its citizen nighttime patrols.
He said the goal is to better protect all students, regardless of their race.
"If we saw a black woman being assaulted by a white male, we're going to take side of the black woman and help her," Heimbach said.
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The White Student Union is not an official university-recognized group, in part because it has been unable to find a faculty adviser, according to The Towerlight, the campus newspaper.The group has been allowed to meet and use university facilities, The Towerlight said.
Heimbach indicated Wednesday that his group has been getting death threats as a result of media reports about the nighttime patrols. "For every anti-white message or death threat that we receive we get two or three dozen messages of support," he wrote.
Towson is the county seat of Baltimore County. In the first half of 2012, the latest period for which statistics are available, crime in each of the county’s 10 precincts trended downward. "Part I" crimes — the most serious crimes — decreased by 8.6 percent in the six-month period compared with the previous five-year average for the same time period, Baltimore County police said.
The county has had its share of crime-related headlines recently.
— Earlier this month, a woman and two men were charged in a shooting near a bus stop that left one man dead and two friends wounded.
— Also this month, a 21-year-old man was convicted of first-degree murder in the killing of a man outside Towson Town Center two years ago. Prosecutors said the killing was ordered by the Black Guerilla Family gang.
— In September, seven people were arrested after a brawl and shooting outside a Towson theater where a clothing drive was being held. A Baltimore County legislator later said the fight outside the Recher Theater was "an anomaly" and not comparable to crimes in Baltimore's Inner Harbor that he blamed on "black youth mobs."
— Education Secretary Arne Duncan plans to visit a Baltimore County high school next month to discuss gun control. Duncan will speak at Loch Raven High School in Towson on April 10. Last August, Duncan visited another county school, Perry Hall High School, addressing hundreds of English teachers. Less than a week later, a student at Perry Hall was shot in the back by another student carrying an antique shotgun. The 15-year-old shooter pleaded guilty to an adult charge of attempted murder and was sentenced to 35 years in prison.
The White Student Union also garnered media attention earlier this month at the Conservative Political Action Conference outside Washington when one of its members reportedly suggested segregating black Republicans from the rest of the party.
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