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Black Tape Found Over Portraits of Black Profs at Harvard Law School, Dean Says Racism a 'Serious Problem' There (UPDATE: Police Investigating Incident as a 'Hate Crime')

“Racism exists in America and in the United States and in Harvard and in Harvard Law School."

UPDATE 7:29 p.m. ET: Harvard University police are investigating the black tape strips found covering portraits of black Harvard Law School professors as a hate crime, the Boston Globe reported.

“The Harvard University Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime,” Dean Martha Minow said in an emailed statement, according to the Globe. “Expressions of hatred are abhorrent, whether they be directed at race, sex, sexual preference, gender identity, religion, or any other targets of bigotry.”

Original story below

While police investigated a report of black tape found covering portraits of black professors in a Harvard Law School lecture hall Thursday morning, the school's dean said racism is “a serious problem” at the iconic institution.

Images of the taped-over portraits in Wasserstein Hall circulated on social media Thursday:

Harvard University Police told the Harvard Crimson that its investigation is “active and ongoing."

The day before the discovery, students had held a rally against racism, the Chronicle of Higher Education reported.

More from the Chronicle:

Racism is a long-simmering issue at the prestigious law school. Recently, students there have called for a change in the school’s seal, which is the coat of arms of the first person to endow a professorship of law at Harvard. The donor, Isaac Royall Jr., derived part of his wealth from the slaves he owned.

The tape was removed and replaced by notes of encouragement, the Boston Globe reported.

At a "community meeting" Thursday afternoon, some students said the school is racist and unwelcoming, the Crimson reported, adding that Dean Martha L. Minow doesn't do enough to support minority students.

“Racism exists in America and in the United States and in Harvard and in Harvard Law School,” Minow said in response to a student's question, according to the Crimson. “I am on record; this is my work. This is what I do."

But after she was questioned further, Minow told the gathering that racism is a “serious problem” at Harvard Law School, the Crimson said.

The Crimson also reported that Minow emailed students prior to the meeting, saying, “I am saddened and angered by this act.”

While racist acts have been confirmed at American college campuses, some incidents have turned out to be hoaxes.

Follow Dave Urbanski (@DaveVUrbanski) on Twitter

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