The message “McDuffie’s Revenge” is no longer a mystery, but remains no less cryptic.
Those words, located on the outside wall of Cooper Hall, can only be seen from an extreme left angle. Speculation had been that the message had appeared at some point during the past year, and questions remained surrounding its significance.
In actuality, the words are the remnants of spray-painted graffiti long ago cleaned off the wall. The original vandalism occurred in May of 1980, and the “McDuffie” in the message refers to Miami insurance executive Arthur McDuffie.
McDuffie, who was black, was allegedly killed at the age of 33 by four white, Dade County policemen. A trial was held in Hillsborough County for the lawmen who were accused of making McDuffie’s death, which was by beating, look like a motorcycle accident.
An all-white jury acquitted the men. As the men walked free, violent protests erupted in both Tampa and Miami. Some protests were held at USF.
On May 20, 1980, “McDuffie’s Revenge” and a series of other spray-painted statements appeared on 10 campus buildings. Among the other slogans were “McDuffie will be avenged,” “McDuffie cries in his grave,” “White man’s justice kills,” “McDuffie murderers,” “Will this go on?” and “Justice?”
The graffiti was removed from the buildings, but a residue remained on Cooper Hall’s brick exterior. Twenty-two years later, the message remains as a haunting reminder of a story long ago forgotten.