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Student Arrested in Connection to Amir Locke Graffiti

Courtesy of Sophia MartinA student was arrested in connection with vandalism on campus Feb. 7.

A Loyola student was arrested Feb. 7 in connection with vandalism that appeared on campus Feb. 5 and Feb. 6 following a police killing in Minneapolis.

A Campus Safety investigation led to the arrest of the student — Anton Jahn-Vavrus — two days before Loyola released a statement about Amir Locke’s death by police.

The graffiti was found on at least 10 campus buildings — messages found on Madonna Della Strada Chapel, Mertz Hall and the Mundelein Center for the Fine and Performing Arts included: “Police lynched Amir Locke,” “BLM” and “RIP Amir Locke.” Additionally, a message on the entrance of Madonna Della Strada said, “Why does God kill Black people?”

Locke, a 22-year-old Black man, was shot and killed by police who were executing a no-knock warrant Feb. 2 that didn’t involve him, according to the Minneapolis Star Tribune.

Prior to the messages across campus, Loyola officials hadn’t acknowledged Locke’s death. 

Jahn-Vavrus, 18, was charged with a felony count of defacement of property totaling less than $500 and appeared in bond court Feb. 9, according to the Clerk of the Circut Court of Cook County’s office. He was released on an Individual Bond, or I-bond, meaning no monetary bail was posted. Typically, vandalism is a misdemeanor but because the incident involved a school and church, it’s a felony. 

His next court date is set for Feb. 16. Jahn-Vavrus denied a request for comment.

Loyola spokesperson Matt McDermott didn’t answer questions about how Campus Safety came to identify Jahn-Vavrus, but said “initial investigative steps led to an identification of a suspect who was taken into custody without incident.” 

Following student demands for a response from the university, a letter from university officials signed by President Jo Ann Rooney, Provost Margaret Callahan, Vice President of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion Dominique Turner and Vice President of Student Development Keith Champagne was emailed to students addressing Locke’s death. 

“We know that the best way to bring about meaningful change is to create an environment of inclusiveness and belonging, where students, faculty, and staff feel safe to voice their concerns and know that they will be addressed,” officials wrote in the email.

The message also included the announcement of a series of roundtable discussions hosted by the Office of Institutional Diversity, Equity and Inclusion, the first of which is scheduled for Feb. 22. 

Loyola’s Anti-Racism Initiative (ARI) also sent an email newsletter to the university community acknowledging Locke’s death Feb. 10, but didn’t reference the graffiti.

“The public outrage around the killing of Amir Locke breaks my heart and calls me to reflect on the Black lives that have been brutally taken from our world,” Amy Nelson Christensen, the chair of the ARI, said in the email. “As a nation, we must decide what sort of future we want to build, and I am heartened by the fact that here at Loyola University Chicago, we are building a more beloved community where everyone feels safe and welcome.”

Correction:The original article said Jahn-Vavrus’ bond was set at $10,000. His bond was set at $10,000 I-bond, or Individual Bond, meaning no actual monetary bail was posted.We regret this error and have updated the article for clarification.

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