By Harriet McLeod
CHARLESTON, S.C., Dec 8 (Reuters) - A Clemson University fraternity has been suspended indefinitely by its national organization after some of its members threw a gangster-themed Christmas party over the weekend seen by many as racially insensitive.
The Saturday night off-campus party, dubbed "Clemson Cripmas," was thrown by the South Carolina school's chapter of Sigma Alpha Epsilon, which school officials say has no black members.
The Crips are group of mainly African-American street gangs founded in Los Angeles in the late 1960s.
Many of those attending wore bandanas, oversized T-shirts and low-slung pants, and were shown in photos posted on social media sites making what appeared to be gang signs.
"The decision of a few brothers to hold this type of social event is inexcusable and completely inappropriate," the national Sigma Alpha Epsilon organization said in a statement announcing the suspension posted on its website on Sunday.
"Their behavior in no way reflects the values and creed of the fraternity, and we apologize to (the) campus and local community for their actions," the fraternity added.
News of the party spread quickly through social media among students and community members, many of whom had participated in recent campus rallies over the refusal of grand juries in Missouri and New York City to indict white police officers in the deaths of unarmed black males, said Clemson Chief Diversity Officer Leon Wiles.
A group of students protested over the party on Sunday, he said.
"Many of our students of color were infuriated, outraged and upset by the 'Cripmas' party," Wiles said. "Some white students didn't think it was a big deal and didn't understand why there was such a strong reaction."
The incident comes in the wake of the suspension of all on-campus social activities for Clemson's 24 fraternities in September after the death of a 19-year-old fraternity pledge who died of a head injury following a fall from a highway bridge into a river. (Editing by Jonathan Kaminsky and Eric Walsh)