Claims AUT student election poster is linked to ‘racist’ militant group Black Panthers

The AUT student election campaign is now underway until the polls close on October 11. Photo / File

A TUE student election poster showing candidates calling themselves “Modern Day Panthers” has led to allegations that she is linked to a US civil rights group.

Two students contacted the Herald saying the posters put them at risk.

“They claim to be ‘modern day panthers’ in reference to the Black Panthers, a racist American group that promotes violence against groups based on race and religion,” said one student, who declined to be named .

They also interpret the ‘Black Power Salute’, making it clear that they are referring to the Black Panthers.

“I don’t feel safe with posters around the uni promoting a racist group, the same way it was a neo-Nazi party or a Hezbollah group.” , said the student.

“AUT is not a platform for racist groups.”

Two students complained about a student election poster they said made them feel uncomfortable.  Photo / Supplied
Two students complained about a student election poster they said made them feel uncomfortable. Photo / Supplied

The Black Panther Party was a militant political organization founded by Bobby Seale and Huey Norton in 1966 in California. It was active in the United States until 1982 and had chapters in many cities and international chapters operating in the United Kingdom and Algeria.

While plaintiffs have cited the Black Panthers, the poster may instead refer to the Polynesian Panther Party – an anti-racist organization founded by Pacific Islanders living in New Zealand in the 1970s. This group has been influenced. by Black Panthers ideology and both feature the raised fist salute gesture.

The student wanted the posters to be removed and the candidates concerned not to be able to come forward.

Another student who called the Herald said the posters were “inappropriate”, especially after the Christchurch bombings.

“They think it’s cool to be associated with a racist group, but it’s wrong to do it in a student election,” she said.

“AUT is meant to be an inclusive institution and posters should be removed.”

Voting for the TUE Student Representative Council (SRC) is now open and the campaign will continue until the polls close on October 11.

A spokesperson for TUE said he would let those involved know the posters made two people uncomfortable enough to complain.

“AUT encourages a range of perspectives and critical and respectful debate. We are also working to make sure this is a place where people feel safe,” the spokesperson said.

“We don’t think the posters are racist or that there is any suggestion that anyone on campus is not safe because of them.”

The university said on its website that the SRC will keep AUT abreast of student needs and also hold AUT accountable for providing the best to students.

“The strength of these returns is as good as that of the representatives, which is why this election is so important,” he said.

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