AMES, Iowa — A racist cyberattack sunk its teeth into Iowa State University staff and students over the weekend.
“4,900 emails were sent with very vile disgusting racial slurs,” said ISU Police Chief Michael Newton.
ISU’s Information Technology Services security team was able to step in, catch and remove nearly 70 percent of the messages and eventually block the sender. “People were calling for violent acts. They talked about lynching in the emails and this is something police definitely need to look into,” Newton said.
For an inclusive university and the only major university with a football stadium named in honor of an African American in Jack Trice, the emails spewing hatred struck a vital nerve. “Here at Iowa State we represent the principles of community. We want to be a welcoming and inclusive environment and that’s a foundation here at Iowa State.”
Iowa State was not alone. Harvard University and Stanford University were also targeted by emails coming from Equity Prime Mortgage.
Equity Prime Mortgage is based in Atlanta and fired its Human Resources Director Melissa Rolfe Thursday, saying, “We value diversity of thought and respect Melissa’s personal views and the views of all employees; however, when those views create a hostile work environment we must make difficult decisions to part ways.”
News outlets like the Washington Times have confirmed she is also the stepmother of Garrett Rolfe, the controversial Atlanta police officer recently fired and charged with the killing of Rayshard Brooks, a Black man, in a Wendy’s parking lot.
Newton said, “I believe there will be some need to work with that corporation to see what happened on their end.”
The Iowa State Police Department is working with the FBI to determine who is responsible for the cyber attack.