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Pictures from ASU fraternity’s ‘MLK Black Party’ ignite uproar

Editor’s Note: Updating this story, Arizona State University announced on Jan. 23 that it had revoked Tau Kappa Epsilon's recognition as a university chapter. Here is the statement.

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PHOENIX – A fraternity’s “MLK Black Party” that produced social media posts of participants drinking from watermelon cups and flashing gang signs had a civil rights leader calling Tuesday for Arizona State University to banish the organization and expel the students involved.

“It takes incidents like this, that are undeniably despicable and that highlight the lowest common denominator in terms of the bigots that are out there, to move our society to take action to defend the rights of students of color,” the Rev. Jarrett Maupin said.

A statement released Tuesday by the university said ASU has suspended chapter operations of Tau Kappa Epsilon and is working with the fraternity’s national organization to investigate what other action may be taken. The statement said the fraternity has been on “disciplinary probation” since 2012, but the ASU Media Relations Office didn’t respond to a request seeking details on what prompted that.

Maupin and others who held a news conference at ASU’s Downtown Phoenix Campus said the school must toughen policies against racism and provide anti-racism training for all employees. If not, they said the black community would boycott the athletic program, including urging athletes to not attend the school.

“Who do you think those black athletes are going to listen to: (ASU President) Michael Crow or their pastors?” Maupin said.

The social media posts, which have since been removed, also showed students wearing athletic jerseys and bandanas. Maupin said he learned that some participants wore blackface.

Alex Baker, national chief information officer for Tau Kappa Epsilon, said the fraternity doesn’t condone racist, discriminatory and-or offensive acts.

“Social events with ‘party themes’ that are defined as such have no place in our fraternity’s mission or purpose,” the statement said. “It is with embarrassment and regret when a few individuals within our organization make decisions that do not align with the values and principles of Tau Kappa Epsilon.”