The Philadelphia Republican Party on Monday condemned the barrage of racist text messages sent to black students at the University of Pennsylvania and decried attempts to associate them with supporters of President-elect Donald Trump.
“Any violence towards somebody because of who they are or who they are perceived to be is wrong, and we condemn it,” said Joe DeFelice, executive director of the Philly GOP in a news release.
The university said Sunday that the messages were sent by three individuals in Oklahoma, one of them a University of Oklahoma student who has since been suspended.
No Penn students were involved, the university said, but it’s unclear how the senders got the contact information for black Penn freshmen and were able to mass-message them racial slurs and disturbing imagery through the Groupme app.
Some of the messages sent to Penn students clearly referenced Trump. Many messages were sent by an account with the electoral map that gave Trump the presidency as its profile picture, another account was called “Daddy Trump.” Others came from a group called “Trump is love,” while one message said “Grab em by the p—y.”
DeFelice rejected attempts to associate the hate mail with the party or Trump.
“Our party is made up of these people – so how could we, on the whole, stand for racism or oppression of any kind?” DeFelice asked, pointing out that the party has “African American, Latino, Asian, Muslim, Jewish and LGBT” members.
He acknowledged that some Trump voters are “undoubtedly” racist, but added that some supporters of Hillary Clinton and her primary opponent Bernie Sanders “spit on the flag and justify violence against police officers as a political tool.”
Meanwhile, U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, a Pennsylvania Democrat, visited Penn’s campus Monday afternoon to speak with students for an hour.
“If the students around this table leave here today remembering only one thing, I hope it’s this: I stand with you,” he told the students, according to a news release.
Casey said the messages sent to Penn students were not “an isolated incident,” and cited an “influx of reports of bigoted acts and violence” across the country since the election, including at Villanova, Council Rock in Bucks County and York County School of Technology.
“The cowards who committed these acts do not represent the values of Pennsylvania or the American people,” he said. “It’s incumbent upon all public officials, including the President-elect, to continuously condemn these acts of hate. The President of the United State must lead with moral authority and denounce racism and bigotry in the strongest terms.”