Following on the heels of last week’s hate graffiti discovery at the Jewish fraternity, on Wednesday the Davis Police responded to the Hillel House, located near the UC Davis campus, for a late-reported incident of graffiti found etched on the wall in the men’s bathroom. The Hillel House is a well-known Jewish organization that is designed to enhance the lives of Jewish students attending schools, including UC Davis.
The vandalism is believed to have occurred sometime between January 22 and January 23.
It was discovered last month by a janitor who said it consisted of the phrase “grout out the jews”, which was etched into the grout on the tile wall of the men’s room in a toilet stall according to a police report.
The janitor immediately removed the graffiti and only yesterday reported it to staff. According to Hillel staff, in the police report “the janitor came forward with this information due to the recent reported hate crime graffiti at the AEPi house in Davis.”
As was the case with the AEPi house, the police are investigating this incident as a hate crime.
Chief Landy Black Updates on AEPi Incident
Meanwhile, on Tuesday, Chief Landy Black gave the Davis City Council a brief update on the original incident. “Very early in the morning, Saturday morning, the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity, across the street from City Hall at the corner of A and Russell, was victimized by unknown persons who painted swastikas in spray paint on the sides of the building.”
He told council that the fraternity has been working with the police to try to identify the perpetrator. “At this point in time it’s one of those anonymous sorts of crimes with [it] very unlikely that there was witnesses and we have not located any,” he said. “However, we are pursuing different avenues for attempting to identify leads that we can pursue.”
Chief Black said they are working with the UC Davis Police Department to reach out to affected communities. He also noted that the Anti-Defamation League has offered a $2500 reward for information leading to the arrest and prosecution of those responsible for this crime. He said, “This does sometimes lend assistance in identifying leads.”
“As of this point in time, we have no suspects that we have identified,” the chief said, again noting that they are pursuing leads.
Chief Black added, “As you, Mayor (Dan Wolk), have condemned what occurred, our police department is embarrassed for our community that someone who resides or frequents in our community has brought this hate and this stain of hate to the community.”
“We would consider this a great badge of honor to be able to solve this crime.,” the chief concluded. “I don’t hold out great hopes, I’ll be frank with you, but we’ll do everything in our power to do so.”
National Attention Again For Davis
Once again, Davis gets national attention for negative reasons. The Anti-Defamation League put out a strongly worded denunciation of the attack calling it a “heinous expression of hatred.” They said, “It is deeply shocking and thoroughly repugnant any time a swastika is employed against the Jewish community.”
The ADL added, “We are extremely concerned that this hate crime occurred directly on the heels of a UC Davis student senate vote supporting the Boycott, Divestment, and Sanctions (BDS) movement. BDS activists have been known to employ Holocaust imagery and themes in an attempt to garner support for their cause.
“We commend UC Davis 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.”
In the meantime, Rabbi Jaclyn Cohen, a UC Davis alumna, sent a letter to UC Davis Chancellor Linda Katehi and the UC Board of Regents, signed by 134 other Jewish alumni from UC Davis.
We are Jewish alumni of UC Davis who write to you today outraged and heartbroken by what our beloved alma mater has become: a place where anti-Israel and anti-Semitic sentiment has been allowed to infiltrate and heavily influence the very culture of the institution.
This blatantly anti-Jewish fervor has grown so virulent and toxic that it culminated in the public desecration of the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house this past week.
We who graduated from UC Davis between 1974 and 2014 are shocked. This is not the UCD we attended. This is not the school where we felt safe in our Jewishness, empowered by our involvement with Hillel House, the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity, the Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi sorority or Aggies for Israel, among others.
This is not the UC Davis that educated us to be well-informed, ambitious, responsible and progressive human beings, or the same university that from our first orientation made clear it valued respect for all peoples, races and religions.
We who call ourselves Aggie alumni have gone on to graduate degrees in a wide variety of fields. We have entered careers in government and politics, arts and humanities, and several have gone on to become clergy to serve the Jewish people throughout North America and abroad. Now, we call upon the same institution that raised us during the most formative years of our lives to take action.
We thank you, Chancellor Katehi, for investigating the incident at the AE Pi fraternity house as a hate crime and “appeal(ing) to every member of our UC Davis community to denounce any and all such acts of bigotry and intimidation.”
However, we want to remind you that this is not an isolated incident. Anti-Semitism does not simply appear; it develops and is nurtured by equal parts hate, fear and ignorance. And so we call upon the university as a whole to examine the source; to determine how such discrimination and intolerance could take root at UC Davis.
We encourage you to return to and re-evaluate UC Davis’ Principles of Community to determine a new direction toward inherent dignity, mutual understanding, civility and respect.
Chancellor Katehi, what we seek begins with you. May your leadership and guidance at this critical juncture in UC Davis’ history prove to be rooted in the very same values that our alma mater once instilled in all of us.
—David M. Greenwald reporting