Andrew Oswalt responsible for Confederate flag hanging in window across from Black Cultural Center on the OSU campus

ASOSU graduate representative, Andrew Oswalt, was arrested on Monday, Jan. 22 by the Benton County Sheriff’s Office on two counts of criminal mischief in the third degree.

Riley Youngman, Web and Mobile Manager

Corvallis Police suspected ASOSU representative of criminal mischief since July 2017

Details on the situation leading to Andrew Oswalt’s arrest this past Monday on the Oregon State University campus have now been released by authorities, including the fact that Oswalt is responsible for the Confederate flag still hanging in the window of The Pillar co-op located across from the Lonnie B. Harris Black Cultural Center on the OSU campus. Oswalt drew controversy this week for expressing racist and white nationalist views in an article published by The Barometer.

According to a search warrant affidavit related to Oswalt’s arrest, the OSU doctoral candidate and ASOSU graduate representative resides in The Pillar, which drew attention this past fall when a Confederate flag appeared in a south-facing window opposite the Black Cultural Center. University officials responded to this incident by denouncing the presence of the flag and distancing the university from the flag and residence itself.

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In September when the flag first appeared, many in the community denounced the tenant’s choice to display it.

The Corvallis Police Department was granted a search warrant by Benton County Circuit Court Judge Matthew Donohue on Jan. 19, 2018 in relation to Oswalt. This allowed the CPD to enter Oswalt’s residence in search of clothing, flyers and stickers that could be used to identify the OSU student as one of two suspects in an incident that occurred at the First Alternative Co-Op on June 17, 2017, according to the search warrant affidavit.

According to the arrest report and details from the affidavit, two individuals placed anti-Semitic flyers on both employee and customer cars at the First Alternative Co-Op, as well as two racially charged bumper stickers on two different vehicles. The Corvallis chapter of Showing Up for Racial Justice, a group dedicated to educating and organizing white people for racial justice according to their website, was meeting at the First Alternative Co-Op when the incident took place. The affidavit reports the stickers as saying, “Racism is a horrible disease you catch it from n*****s.”

Oswalt was first identified by one of his students over the summer based on security camera footage released on social media by the CPD. Using the security footage, officers were able to gather a description of the suspect’s clothing and general body figure, including a dark beard. In the affidavit, CPD officer Luke Thomas says that the student was “100 percent confident” one of the suspects in the footage was Oswalt. Thomas then goes on to say that by utilizing multiple investigative sources, including Oswalt’s DMV photo, he was able to identify Oswalt as one of the two suspects.

On Dec. 2 Thomas made a phone call to Oswalt’s mother in an attempt to locate him after being unable to locate Oswalt prior to that point. It was then that Thomas learned that Oswalt resided in The Pillar, located across from the Black Cultural Center on the OSU campus.

On Jan. 10, Thomas made several attempts to contact Oswalt, including calling numerous times, leaving voicemails and emails, and even attempting to contact him in person. Oswalt did not respond to Thomas in any manner, according to the affidavit. A property manager at The Pillar was able to provide the officer with Oswalt’s room number.

On Jan. 17, Thomas made contact with Oswalt in person near Monroe Avenue and 23rd Street. According to the affidavit, Oswalt gave his reason for not responding to the officer’s communications as previous negative interactions with law enforcement.

“During my conversation with Oswalt, he was evasive with answers and would stare at me in silence,” Thomas detailed in the affidavit. “At one point, I asked Oswalt if he was responsible for posting the flyers and the stickers on the vehicles at First Alternative Co-op, to which he shrugged his shoulders and said, ‘Ehhh.’”

Thomas said he told Oswalt he found this response to be unusual and explained that (Oswalt) was either responsible for the incident or he wasn’t. Oswalt responded by staring at the officer in silence.

“I told Oswalt that based on his response I felt that he was not going to deny involvement in the incident but that he was also not going to admit to being involved,” the affidavit said. “Oswalt agreed and told me that ‘seems accurate.’”

From here, Thomas took a picture of Oswalt and noted the clothing he was wearing, including a black rain jacket with maroon lining in the hood and sleeve. Thomas then matched this jacket to one that a suspect in the security footage from the incident was wearing. Between the officer’s observations and the tip from Oswalt’s former student, Thomas believed he had probable cause at this point to acquire a search warrant. Judge Matthew Donohue approved this request on Jan. 19.

Oswalt was arrested on the OSU campus on Monday, Jan. 22 and booked at the Benton County Jail for two counts of criminal mischief in the third degree. He was released the same day under Facility Release Own Recognizance, meaning Oswalt affirmed in writing he would appear before the court.

Oswalt’s arraignment hearing is scheduled for Feb. 12 at 1 p.m. at the Benton County Courthouse, according to the Benton County District Attorney’s office.

This is a continuously developing story and the Barometer will continue to provide information as it becomes available.

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