Tagging Along on Towson’s White Student Union’s Nighttime Crime Patrol

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Photo of a White Student Union member's truck, by Caitlin Dickson. (The WSU member is not a Towson student.)
Photo of a White Student Union member’s truck, by Caitlin Dickson. (The WSU member is not a Towson student.)

Remember those “nighttime patrols” that Towson’s White Student Union announced last month to much media outcry? (The idea was that the group’s members would patrol the mean streets of Towson unarmed, looking for black men committing crimes against white women.) Well, some reporters actually tagged along last week — and the results may surprise you.

The WSU invited CNN (which canceled at the last minute and sent its reporter to Boston), Vice (which has yet to file a report), and the Daily Beast, whose reporter found Heimbach to be both polite and troubling. Here are some of the highlights of that visit:

  • Heimbach actually tried to start a White Student Union at his high school, but the administration wouldn’t let him.
  • Heimbach says the patrols are a response to the “very large problem of black­-male­-against-­white-­female crime”; for years, Towson has been one of the safest campuses in  Maryland.
  • The six students on patrol stop by the Black Student Union to ask if any of its members want to join in. They do not.
  • The WSU does not consider Jews to be white. When the patrol passes by a sign asking students to write in their favorite authors, Heimbach writes “Hitler.”
  • “I’ve always been put off by skinheads and neo-Nazis and the Klan because they don’t advocate a positive message,” Heimbach says. Uh, I guess that’s one way of putting it.
  • The WSU consists of 57 people, according to Heimbach, but most of those aren’t Towson students — they’re community members and students at other local schools.
  • Towson’s president, Maravene Loeschke, publicly called out Heimbach at the Unity Rally the school held in early April, describing him as “one student out there giving a lot of misinformation.”
  • So far, six patrols have gone out, and zero crimes have been spotted or stopped. The group did, however, help two really drunk girls get a cab home.
  • Other students continue to decry the media fascination with Heimbach and his WSU cohorts. “WSU is not affiliated, supported, or endorsed by the university. Some students don’t even know it exists,” student Bilphena Yahwon said. “They’re not even a group, just a few individuals who are being obnoxious.”
  • Heimbach graduates next month. Phew.

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