Jalen Mitchell reported to campus police on Jan. 26 that he found a note containing racist and homophobic language taped to the back door of his university-owned residence. After further investigation, campus police determined that the incident was a fabrication.
According to the police report, Mitchell, a senior vocal performance major, was questioned and asked to provide a handwriting sample which showed “similar characteristics.” When asked if he was the author of the note, he confessed to submitting multiple false reports to campus police.
“It was a way to try to get attention, to say ‘Someone notice me, I’m dying on the inside,'” Mitchell told the Chimes.
He said that he felt like he didn’t know where to turn to ask for help, but that he was thankful that campus police responded promptly and got him the help that he needed because he was “not stable mentally.”
During the fall semester of 2015, Mitchell reported finding a similar note containing racial slurs and swastikas at his apartment. Police investigated the situation, but didn’t find any fingerprints or incriminating evidence to determine a suspect.
The campus community responded to the incident with a series of events, including an open conversation and an inclusivity march, to raise awareness of the possibility of hate crimes here on campus.
Mitchell said that reporting the first incident helped the feelings he was having, but it “didn’t solve what was really happening on the inside,” because he didn’t seek proper help afterwards. He said this is why he continued with the other two reports, where he says the problem spiraled out of control.
More recently, in the fall of 2016, Mitchell reported an assault on Astor Avenue, near the tennis courts. He told university police he was attacked on campus by a man with a knife during his walk home from visiting a friend. According to the safety bulletin, Mitchell received cuts and scratches on his neck, arms, leg and stomach, allegedly by a white male in his late 20s or early 30s with a full beard.
Mitchell wants those who are angry about the incidents being fabricated to know that he’s sorry, and he never thought it would go as far as it did.
“I didn’t mean to cause alarm, I didn’t mean to scare anyone,” Mitchell said. “I just wanted to be noticed … not for fame, just acknowledgement.”
After receiving help, he feels much more comfortable speaking about what he’s feeling, and he realizes that fabricating the reports was not the way to accomplish anything. He hopes that everyone sees him as “someone who’s broken, been broken and is crying for help.”
He also hopes that those who feel his actions have delegitimatized the reporting of hate crimes will forgive him, as that was not his intention.
“The real ones are legitimate,” Mitchell said. “I’m sorry if what I’ve done takes away from that.”
According to the safety bulletin, Mitchell’s case has been referred to Judicial Affairs.