The Davis Police Department is continuing its investigation into the reported hate crime that occurred in in the early morning hours of January 31, 2015. Sometime between 2:00 am and approximately 9:50 am, the AEPi fraternity house, located in the 100 block of Russell Blvd., was vandalized when yet-to-be-identified perpetrators marked the home with two swastikas.
From the start, the Davis police noted that, without video surveillance on the fraternity premises, they would need help from the community to find out who committed the act. Now the police report that the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) has contacted the Davis Police Department and is offering a $2,500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of the perpetrator(s) responsible for the vandalism.
The ADL Central Pacific regional director in San Francisco issued a statement on Monday denouncing “the hate crime committed against the UC Davis Jewish community.” Seth Brysk said, “It is deeply shocking and thoroughly repugnant any time a swastika is employed against the Jewish community.”
He continued, “It is even more offensive that this act of anti-Semitism was committed during the same week the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day and the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz from the Nazis.”
Mr. Brysk also saw a connection between the ASUCD Divestment vote and the crime. He said, “We are extremely concerned that this hate crime occurred directly on the heels of a UCD Student Senate vote supporting the Boycott, Divestment and Sanctions movement. BDS activists have been known to employ Holocaust imagery and themes in an attempt to garner support for their cause.”
He added, “We commend Chancellor Linda Katehi for her strong statement condemning the vandalism and appreciate her sensitivity to the particular offense it caused. And we are grateful the Davis Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime.”
Finally he stated, “During a debate at UC Berkeley, BDS supporters used the epithet “Zizi” (i.e., Zionist Nazi) on Twitter to describe students who opposed their extreme program to delegitimize Israel’s right to exist and deny Jewish self-determination.”
A host of groups from UC Davis, which were very quick to denounce the attack, included: Students for Justice in Palestine at UC Davis; Muslim Student Association at UC Davis; Arab Student Union at UC Davis; Pakistani Student Association at UC Davis; Afghan Student Association at UC Davis; M.E.Ch.A. de UC Davis; Black Student Union at UC Davis; Sikh Cultural Association at UC Davis; S.M.A.R.T. (Students Matter: Activism, Retention, Teamwork) Coalition; Officers of the Davis Unit, UAW 2865; Hannah Kagen-Moore, Davis Unit UAW 2865; Duane Wright, Davis Unit UAW 2865; Mai Sartawi, National Lawyer’s Guild; Claire White, Student National Vice President, National Lawyer’s Guild; Gonzalo Cortes Moreno, Lawyer and Constitutional Law Professor (King Law School); and Armando Figueroa, ASUCD President .
Their statement read: “As a coalition of students and campus organizations at UC Davis, we condemn the actions taken sometime during the night of January 31st, 2015 by an unknown person(s) who defaced the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house, which is a Jewish interest fraternity, with swastikas.
“Just as we condemned the hanging of a noose, the defamation of the Palestinian dove, or calling students ‘terrorists’ based on their physical appearance or beliefs, we equally condemn the display of the swastika. This reminds us that anti-Semitism, along with all other forms of hate, including, but not limited to, Islamophobia, homophobia, transphobia, racism, and misogyny, still exist and are rampant trans-nationally and on our university campuses.”
They added: “We reject any attempts to blame this on any single student community, including the UC Davis Divestment movement. We hope that the university investigates and exercises due diligence in holding those responsible for this hate crime to the fullest extent of the law.”
Alpha Epsilon Pi spokesman Nathaniel Bernhard, a third-year student in economics and political science, in an interview with the Sacramento Bee downplayed the connection between the ASUCD vote and the swastikas.
Mr. Bernhard told the Bee, “It’s tough to have it all (happen) in one week, but a direct link is unfair.”
The university has seen hate crimes before, the Bee referenced. “In August 2013, during the week of the 50th anniversary of Dr. Martin Luther King’s 1963 “I Have a Dream” speech in Washington, D.C., vandals smashed more than 30 windows on campus and scrawled a racial slur on a chalkboard at Dutton Hall. That building houses the financial aid office, student judicial affairs and other services.”
On Saturday UC Davis officials, including Chancellor Linda Katehi, Executive Vice Chancellor Ralph Hexter and Vice Chancellor for Student Affairs Adela de la Torre, issued a strong statement of condemnation.
“This morning students at a UC Davis Jewish fraternity discovered despicable and hateful graffiti on their walls, including a large red swastika that appeared to be spray-painted on the exterior of the house,” the joint statement read. “This kind of behavior is not only repugnant and a gross violation of the values our university holds dear, it is unacceptable and must not be tolerated on our campus or anywhere else.
“No matter what religious, political or personal beliefs we hold, as members of a university community we have an obligation to treat each other with respect and dignity, even when we disagree,” they continued. “Nothing rivals a swastika as a more potent or offensive symbol of hatred and violence toward our Jewish community members, but this odious symbol is an affront to us all. As campus leaders, we are saddened and outraged that this occurred in our community.
“As our Principles of Community demonstrate, UC Davis is built on a foundation of tolerance and inclusion, and when those principles are violated in such a reprehensible manner, we have all been violated,” they said.
“We have requested that the police investigate this act of vandalism as a hate crime. We appeal to every member of our UC Davis community to denounce any and all such acts of bigotry and intimidation,” the chancellor concluded. “We must instead demonstrate to the world that no matter what issue or debate we engage in, we are a community committed to mutual respect and tolerance. No single act such as this will ever define us, but we must define ourselves as a university community that has no tolerance for prejudice or such an abhorrent symbol and the history of hatred it evokes and extends.”
The police are seeking help. Anyone with information regarding this crime is encouraged to call Davis Police Department, (530) 747-5400.
—David M. Greenwald reporting