Campus Groups React to Recent Acts of 'Hate Speech' Vandalism

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Following incidents of offensive vandalism on and around campus, members of student groups and the campus community say they are upset and hurt.

Last Wednesday evening, a poster promoting Israeli-Palestinian peace on a bus stop outside Eshleman Hall was vandalized with anti-Semitic marks and symbols. The words "Jew" and "Israel" were crossed out on the poster, which was also defaced with symbols equating the Star of David to swastikas.

Berkeley Police Department is now investigating the incident as a hate crime, which is unusual in Berkeley, said Berkeley police Officer Andrew Frankel.

On Friday, graffiti appeared in a classroom in Dwinelle Hall, reading, "SJP, Don't Fuck with Jews on this campus ANYMORE!" along with a Jewish star labeled "Never Again." A nationalistic Israeli statement in Hebrew was also found on the walls of the classroom.

Although the Dwinelle Hall graffiti has not yet been officially reported to UCPD, it would constitute the third incident of bias-related crime in 2008, according to campus police sergeant Eric Tejada.

"We investigate them as we do all crimes," Tejada said. "The fact that it's a hate crime raises a level of concern in the community."

The bus stop vandalism and Dwinelle Hall graffiti have provoked angry responses from several student groups on campus.

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine have denounced the bus stop vandalism and also the mention of their group in the graffiti in Dwinelle Hall.

"We obviously condemn the message behind the swastika hate speech," said organizing member and senior Yaman Salahi. "But it took a different turn after the Dwinelle graffiti on Friday ... This is a very inappropriate threat against members of our organization."

Sophomore Gary Yevelev, who acts as the political advocacy chairman on the board of the Israel Action Committee, condemned both incidents as inexcusable.

"(The Dwinelle Hall graffiti) is a baseless and unfounded accusation against a student group," he said. "I think the majority of the Jewish community is disappointed that a student is willing to stoop to this."

Members of Students for Justice in Palestine have been meeting with several student groups within the Jewish Student Union to keep communication open.

Yesterday, Chancellor Robert Birgeneau issued a campus-wide statement over the bus vandalism incident.

"As a university community that does not condone any acts of intolerance or hate, we must speak out against this anti-Semitic obscenity," Birgeneau said in an e-mail. "Deplorable acts of hate are the antithesis of a university community."


Rebecca Wallace covers student life. Contact her at [email protected]

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