Swastika Found at Jewish Fraternity; Investigated as a Hate Crime

Swastika-Fraternity

At 10:18 am on Saturday morning, Davis Police were called to the Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity in regard to a vandalism report. The AEPi is a off-campus Jewish fraternity affiliated with UC Davis.

The fraternity had found two swastikas painted near the back door and side door to the fraternity house. The swastikas were 1″x1″ and 3’x3′ respectively, and were placed on the building using red paint.

Police said the residents believe that the crime had occurred between 2 am and shortly before its discovery.

Police indicated that this would be classified as a hate crime. The fraternity house reportedly does not have a video surveillance system, forcing the police to rely on tips as they investigate the matter.

Students for Justice in Palestine, among other student groups, released a statement condemning the vandalism: “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.”

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.”

On Thursday, ASUCD had passed a resolution by an 8-2-2 vote calling for the UC Board of Regents to divest from “corporations that aid in the Israeli occupation of Palestine and illegal settlements in Palestinian territories, violating both international humanitarian law and international human rights.”

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

About The Author

David Greenwald is the founder, editor, and executive director of the Davis Vanguard. He founded the Vanguard in 2006. David Greenwald moved to Davis in 1996 to attend Graduate School at UC Davis in Political Science. He lives in South Davis with his wife Cecilia Escamilla Greenwald and three children.

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59 Comments

    1. David Greenwald

      I certainly wouldn’t rule out a connection, but these things unfortunately happen often enough that it could be coincidence. The students did feel the need to put out a statement which is a suggestive that they’re at least concerned about the coincidence.

      1. Barack Palin

        I doubt it’s a coincidence, within two days of the ASUCD resolution against Israel we now have a hate crime directed at Jewish students.  I wonder if our community will get as up in arms as they were when the noose was found hanging from the football goal posts?

        1. Alan Miller

          “Jews are not considered at this point as vulnerable a population as blacks.”

          That’s an “interesting” statement David.

          Not considered by WHOM, and what is the MEASURE OF “VULNERABILITY” used?

  1. Barack Palin

    Fraternity Vice President, Nathaniel Bernhard feels anti-semitism has become a growing issue on campus. “We view it as something that was built up to and this was just dramatic enough to get people’s attention,” said Bernhard.
    Thursday, student senators passed a bill to request UC Regents sever ties with businesses with connections to Israel.
    “From that bill, there have been Facebook posts that have been unbelievably derogatory toward Jews,” said Bernhard.

    http://fox40.com/2015/01/31/uc-davis-fraternity-vandalized-in-hate-crime/

      1. KSmith

        I highly doubt this student speaks for a significant number of students. Her Facebook post just looked to me like she got way over-excited.

        As someone who works at UCD and is on campus almost every day, I can pretty much guarantee you that Shariah law has -not- taken over UC Davis, and is certainly in no danger of doing so.

        1. Alan Miller

          “Her Facebook post just looked to me like she got way over-excited.”

          Yeah, and I just got over-excited and yelled “n*gg*r” in the Memorial Union while getting coffee.

          Apologist for racism, much?

           

          1. Don Shor

            Since conservative voices on the Vanguard have made much of this comment, I’m curious as to what exactly you all think she meant by it, since it is obviously not literally true.

  2. Frankly

    Probably not, Jews are not considered at this point as vulnerable a population as blacks.

    David – you need to think deeply about this comment, IMO, and reflect on the passive message of hate contained within it.

    This very thinking was prominent in pre WWII Germany.  The Jews were not considered vulnerable and so society didn’t pay attention to their treatment until it was too late.

    You don’t get to vary group consideration based on a gage of vulnerability (e.g., level of victim-class) without being accurately labeled as bigoted.

    Hate is hate.

      1. South of Davis

        Does anyone know if the AEPi (or ZBT and SAM) fraternity at UCD is still mostly Jewish?

        Before the 70’s the (above) Jewish fraternities were 100% Jewish (and the rest of the national fraternities were less than 1% Jewish).  By the 80’s (in California) many “historically” Jewish fraternities were only about half Jewish and many of the “historically” racist fraternities were about 10% Jewish.

        When I was down at the KA house at Cal visiting cousin last year I learned that all the fraternities at Cal were more diverse than the UN.

        P.S. When David  wrote “Jews are not considered at this point as vulnerable a population as blacks” I laughed out loud when thinking of the (mostly skinny non athletic) “vulnerable” guys in the (historically Jewish) AEPi chapter where I went to school who would run and hide if someone was spray painting their fraternity house and the (mostly huge muscle bound NCAA athletes) “non-vulnerable” guys in the (Historically Black) Alpha Phi Alpha Chapter who would give the beat down to anyone that messed with their house…

        1. David Greenwald

          That’s not how a vulnerable population is defined.

          “Vulnerable populations can be defined broadly to include any individual, group, or community whose circumstances present barriers to obtaining or understanding information or to access resources offered before, during and after a disaster event. These circumstances may include, but are not limited to: age; physical, mental, emotional, or cognitive status; culture; ethnicity; religion; language; citizenship; or socioeconomic status.”

        2. Barack Palin

          I don’t think it comes down to vulnerability as much as it comes down to some people are willing to accept hate directed towards certain nationalities, races and religions.

          1. David Greenwald

            I would simply argue that that “willingness” is based on the perceived ability for the group to “defend itself” – with resources, power, etc. Jews in America are among the most educated and affluent groups in the country and therefore have the political clout and power to defend themselves whereas blacks have traditionally been the least powerful and affluent and have traditionally lacked the power to defend themselves – hence slavery, Jim Crow, the New Jim Crow, etc.

        3. Frankly

          I would simply argue that that “willingness” is based on the perceived ability for the group to “defend itself” – with resources, power, etc. Jews in America are among the most educated and affluent groups in the country and therefore have the political clout and power to defend themselves whereas blacks have traditionally been the least powerful and affluent and have traditionally lacked the power to defend themselves – hence slavery, Jim Crow, the New Jim Crow, etc.

          So let’s name the first Jewish President of the US!

        4. South of Davis

          David wrote:

          > and have traditionally lacked the power to defend

          > themselves – hence slavery, Jim Crow

          What does slavery and Jim Crow (or the Holocaust) have to do with the “power” of Blacks (or Jews) to “defend” themselves in America TODAY.

          I agree with you that “Jews in America are among the most educated and affluent groups in the country” but they don’t have nearly the “political clout” that Blacks have today.

          Not only do I not expect a Jewish president any time soon I can’t imagine a UC school voting to condemn a Black majority country (the kids would probably be expelled for a “hate crime” for even talking about the vote)…

          1. David Greenwald

            Well here’s an interesting measure. There are currently nine Jews elected to the U.S. senate. There have been nine African Americans elected to the Senate in the history of the U.S.

    1. Alan Miller

      Frankly, VERY VERY well put.  I am glad you caught that comment in the same light that I did.

      It’s not that I think David is being hateful, it’s the way of thinking that allows one to consider that there is some measure of racism that can be applied to groups by some nebulous “them” that disturbs me.

      1. David Greenwald

        You’re projecting my comment far further than was the intent.  Frankly specifically asked about the reaction to the Swastikas and whether there would be an equivalent reaction to the one from the Noose – there won’t be and I attempted to explain why.

        “Jews are not considered at this point as vulnerable a population as blacks.”

        If I had to rephrase it more artfully, I would say, the people in the community who reacted strongly against the noose a few years ago, probably do not view Jews to be in an as vulnerable a position as they viewed blacks a few years ago.

  3. hpierce

    Just for fun, let’s look at some what if’s:

    What if one or more of the frat members (key word being frat) decided to deface their own property to make their own ‘political statement”… some things that “fit”:  how rapidly the university was aware of the situation and respond; the fact that the places defaced were not visible from the public street; no mention of anyone on the frat house hearing or seeing anything; very limited damage/cleanup costs.  If the motive was to “stir things up”, success, based on the posts this morning.  Things that might not fit:  defacing own property with offensive symbols.

    What if one or more stupid teenagers (key word being teenager) decided to “stir the pot” for some reknown in their ‘tagging’ skills’, and their ability to agitate the community and get a “reaction”.  Things that fit:  tagging where they could not be seen (actually, that was semi-smart), and successfully getting attention in the Emptyprize, this blog, and likely, the Bee.  Things that don’t fit:  such a perp would perhaps worry about being caught by the frat members.

    If a frat member was held down and a swastika or ‘juden star’ was written/carved on their body, very clearly a hate crime.

    If there were 20-30 swastikas or offensive language tags on the house, or if windows were broken, significant property damage done, pretty clearly a hate crime.

    I, for one am not going to get real upset about this until I see a real pattern, higher incidence, or until PD has results of their investigation.

     

      1. hpierce

        No, I didn’t for precisely the same two “what if’s” I posited here.  Duh.  I don’t recall any proliferation of nooses in the community, nor do I recall any personal attacks following that incident. In that case, if it was a prank, meant to stir things up, get attention, etc., causing a minimum of real damage that would spur a very intensive investigation, the perps in THAT case were also VERY successful.  Could it been done by “minority”/black students?  Yep.  Could have.  I’ve never seen result of that investigation.

        Now if the noose had been placed in a black student’s locker, with obvious tampering with the lock, would have felt differently.

        1. Barack Palin

          Well that’s good for you, and I agree with you that the swastikas could’ve been a plant, but I also recall the outrage by the community and many of the posters on here who had no idea who did it.  Their silence so far today I think says a lot.

        2. hpierce

          Your comment above indicates your question of me was  sort of “litmus test” to see if for given types of behaviors I’d react differently depending on ‘”whose ox is being gored”.  Thought I ‘smelled’ that (somewhat a foul smell), and almost challenged it in my previous post.  I gave you the benefit of the doubt that you were neither that petty nor that paranoid.

          Appears I erred.

    1. Anon

      The same thought ran through my head, as I remember there was a previous hate crime in Davis that turned out to be done by the victims themselves to stir up sympathy.

    2. South of Davis

      If the sun sets on the tag today it is probably a “false flag” since people that “want” it there will leave it while people that “don’t want it” there will cover it with paint…

      It is sad about “crying wolf” and “hate crimes” but in addition to the recent UVA scandal it seems like not a month has gone by for years when I didn’t hear about at least one  fake “hate crime”:

      http://www.nationalreview.com/article/374096/eleven-hate-crime-hoaxes-alec-torres

      http://townhall.com/columnists/johnhawkins/2013/11/30/seven-phony-hate-crimes-trumpeted-by-the-media-n1755158/page/full

      1. hpierce

        Your first sentence raises a VERY interesting point.  Wish I had thought about that.  Maybe an investigating journalist can arrange to go out to the site to take pictures as was done @ Royal Oak MHP.  As well as the owners, typically PD recommends covering/removing graffiti ASAP after it has been documented for possible prosecution of those who did it.  If it does remain for another 24 hours the most plausible reasons are (in no particular order):  It was placed by frat members for a political reason;  it was done by others, but the frat wants to “display” it for all to see they were ‘victims’ (kinda’ like picking a scab to see it bleed some more – and then you can get a scar to remember the injury); they don’t have the funds to pay for the paint.  Maybe other reasons that aren’t occurring to me just now.  If lack of funds, I hereby pledge (pun intended) $25 for the paint/supplies.

  4. Anon

    Again, I am going to come at this from a different angle, and this is JMO.

    Firstly, I don’t understand why the pro-Jewish students walked out prior to the vote, unless they were sure they did not have the vote count?  The ASUCD is a democracy, and IMO the Jewish students should have been “man enough” to participate in the process, unless there was some indication it was rigged.

    Secondly, even tho I totally disagree with the divestiture resolution that was passed by the ASUCD, I do think the students who approved it are going to learn a valuable lesson from it.  They will find the UC system will not in any way bend to their unreasonable demands, so that this symbolic gesture of a middle finger to Israel will in fact generate a lot of ill will and feelings that the ASUCD is anti-Semitic.  Well, perhaps these students need to learn these lessons in a relatively safe environment before they get out in the real world where their nonsense would not be tolerated.  You think the business world gives a rat’s behind who they make money off of?  And who do these misguided students think hands out jobs?  Businesses.

    The world is not a pretty place; there are all sorts of ambiguities/gray areas/unfairness.  How many of these same students wear clothes made through slave labor, yet they don’t seem to have a problem with purchasing cheap clothes made in China, India and the like where child sweat shops are common.

    In my view, some ASUCD students acted like the not fully baked adults (children) they are, did not think through the full repercussions of their actions, and actually achieved nothing but animosity for their anti-Semetic views.  You think this will play well on their resumes when getting a job?  LOL  Students who joined SDS and demonstrated against the War in Viet Nam found themselves locked out of jobs requiring a security clearance.

    Sometimes you need to THINK BEFORE YOU SPEAK, and then if you want to say something stupid, go right ahead, but be prepared to take the consequences of your ill chosen words.

    1. Tia Will

      Students who joined SDS and demonstrated against the War in Viet Nam found themselves locked out of jobs requiring a security clearance.”

      Not exactly since the US military was quite happy to take me although I was very open about my having protested the Viet Nam war and about my pacifism. The government, like businesses, is very opportunistic. If they perceive a need, they will hire the best available candidate despite what they might see as youthful indiscretions. My point is that I am sure that we all “know someone who” had their career either positively or negatively affected by past actions. I sincerely doubt that anyone who would get security clearance based on other criteria, will have it denied on the basis of one ASUCD vote.

    1. Barack Palin

      TBD, can you imagine the uproar if the resolution had been shot down and a Jewish member of the UC Student Senate had posted something like “Israelis and Judaism have taken over UC Davis’?

      1. Tia Will

        BP

        can you imagine the uproar if the resolution had been shot down and a Jewish member of the UC Student Senate had posted something like “Israelis and Judaism have taken over UC Davis’?”

        Perhaps there would be less need felt to make these kinds of statements if the Palestinians had a homeland such as was created for the Israel’s out of lands that had historically been inhabited by Jews, Muslims, and Christians. From one Palestinian perspective, the entire state of Israel which they perceive as their homeland as well has been “taken over by Israelis and Judaism” and in that they would be accurate.

        1. Barack Palin

          Perhaps there would be less need felt to make these kinds of statements

          Do you really think there’s a “need” for any provocative statements of that kind?

  5. LadyNewkBahm

    Lets just say I doubt a resolution in favor of divestment from palestinian territories, Iran, Saudi Arabia, Syria……would probably not be appreciated, especially if most of the ACUCD was Jewish. Am I wrong?

      1. Matt Williams

        Anon, check your Roberts Rules Of Order. I believe that you will find that when a voting member of a body absents themselves from an in process meeting, their vote on an item that was in process at the time they walked out, is entered as an abstention. Abstentions definitely are recorded for the record as one of the components of the vote taken.

        1. hpierce

          And are we sure that the ASUCD body was following Robert’s Rules of Order?  There are other ‘parlimentary’ systems, and do we have evidence that they were following any of them?

        2. dlmandel

          The voting took place among the 12 senators, not members of the audience. But this misunderstanding does highlight an important point. The senators were elected by undergraduates, and the now-disgruntled students who walked out failed to elect more than two out of 12 who would vote against the divestment resolution. That’s democracy, OK?

          In walking out, moreover, they isolated themselves from the large majority of the audience who remained, mostly in support of the resolution.  (I’m reporting firsthand — I was there to see it.) And unlike the walkout crowd, the supporters manifested as an extremely diverse coalition, ethnically, racially, religiously, etc. Speakers on the pro side also made a point of saying that the resolution was pro-human rights, not anti-anyone at UCD. Fact is, by the way, American Jews — Jewish UCD students among them — are themselves of various minds on the subject. One undergraduate spoke eloquently and briefly in support after the vote was taken, and several more would have if the debate hadn’t been cut short by the walkout.

          I can’t imagine any of those who remained and celebrated the resolution’s passage having any rational wish to distract from the message by painting swastikas on the wall of a Jewish fraternity. The perpetrators had to be either someone utterly unbalanced with hatred or someone who deliberately wanted to accomplish that distraction, creating the delusion that support of divestment is somehow at fault, then saying so to the media who would naturally notice the juxtaposition.

           

        3. Anon

          To Matt: We have no idea what rules were followed in the procedure, or what the pro-Jewish students walked out.  Perhaps they felt the entire vote was rigged.  Or perhaps they just realized which way the vote was going to go and knew they would be out-voted.  I just don’t know the situation.  A commenter above seems to think the pro-Jewish ASUCD board members walked out because they were outnumbered and knew which way the vote was going to go.  But then we have some indication by another commenter that ASUCD board members were being bullied to vote a certain way.

  6. Dave Hart

    As I recall, during the many years of organizing against the apartheid South Africa including the calls for economic boycott, there were very few, if any, accusations of racism toward the supporters and organizers of the boycott.  If the ruling elite of South Africa could have played any kind of victim card, it most certainly would have done so.

     

  7. sisterhood

    49 comments and not one focusing on the absolute disgust and disdain over this horrible act. There is a documentary on CNN right now about the holocaust survivors. I wonder what the’d have to say about this incident. I don’t care about comparing this act to the equally disgusting noose incident. I don’t care about the Vietnam war protesters or the people who walked out on the vote. The focus of this discussion should be the swastika and what law enforcement is doing about it. Shame on the people who are minimizing this. Shame on anyone who suggests maybe someone did this to get support for their cause. What cause? Someone said they won’t get upset until they see a pattern. How many swastikas make a pattern?Others are calling it a hoax.
    What’s wrong with you?

    1. Anon

      Because there was a hoax of this sort a few years ago on campus.  And just for the record, I am absolutely opposed to the ASUCD divestiture vote, and find Nazi swastikas abhorrent.

  8. Tia Will

    sisterhood

    Shame on the people who are minimizing this. Shame on anyone who suggests maybe someone did this to get support for their cause. What cause? ”

    While I agree with you that the use of the swastika should never be minimized, I completely disagree that this is could not be a case of supporting a cause.

    Neo Nazis, skin heads, white supremacists are alive and well and definitely have a cause in which they believe.  I have in person heard this cause described as a complete separation of the races or the suggestion that blacks should be “sent back to Africa”. There also have been cases in which a hate symbol has been planted by members of the “target group” in order to gain attention or sympathy for their cause. Either is reprehensible from my point of view.

    The swastika is such an iconic symbol of hatred that I think it is undeniable that it is being used by someone to manipulate feelings. Given its success in doing so, it should never be tolerated on the property of others.

  9. sisterhood

    “there was a previous hate crime in Davis that turned out to be done by the victims themselves to stir up sympathy.”

    “the swastikas could’ve been a plant” 

    “it seems like not a month has gone by for years when I didn’t hear about at least one  fake “hate crime”

    Sorry, Tia, I didn’t explain myself very well. I was referring to these types of comments.

    1. South of Davis

      Sisterhood wrote:

      > Others are calling it a hoax. What’s wrong with you?

      I can’t find anyone that is “calling it a hoax”, some people are saying that it “might” be a hoax (since this HAS happened before)

      As a former IFC President and former Chairman of an IFC Judicial board I know that AEPi is a historically Jewish fraternity, but most of my own fraternity brothers do not know this and I’m betting that the typical white supremacist or Palestinian will not walk by a house with “Greek” letters on it and say “I bet Jews live there let’s tag the house”…

      I have no idea who painted the swastika, but there is nothing “wrong” with anyone that points out that it “might” be a hoax…

      http://en.metapedia.org/wiki/Swastika_vandalism

      It is not like red paint has never been used to “make a statement”:

      http://kdvr.com/2012/06/29/lesbian-couple-pleads-guilty-to-faking-hate-crime/

  10. sisterhood

    “I can’t find anyone that is “calling it a hoax”, some people are saying that it “might” be a hoax…”

    Are you a lawyer?

    I’m still surprised that so many readers would go there, rather than writing in support of the fraternity and offer words of support and love. Instead, readers write statements of disbelief. I’m in a state of shock and disbelief, too.

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