Two swastikas were painted on the Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house early Saturday morning in what police are calling a hate crime.
The swastikas were painted near the back door and side door of the fraternity house. AEPI is an off-campus Jewish Fraternity affiliated with UC Davis.
“It’s 2015 and were still fighting swastikas on Jewish people’s houses. It’s a little frustrating,” said Jewish student, Joshua Roisman.
Police say the swastikas were 1″x1″ and 3’x3′ respectively, and were painted in red. Residents believe the crime occurred between 2 a.m. and 9:50 a.m. Saturday morning.
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.
The graffiti is something UC Davis officials say they cannot ignore. In a statement, the chancellor calls the swastikas “repugnant” and “a violation of the values the university holds dear.”
Hours after it was sprayed, university officials joined fraternity and Jewish community leaders to address the issue in person.
Provost and Vice Chancellor Ralph Hextor has a strong message for whoever did this.
“It’s a message of hate. Its very likely hate speech in itself and you can be sure that were looking very carefully to see who perpetrated this,” said Hextor.
As for Bernhard, he’s hoping the act of hate backfires, bringing the community closer together.
“If their intention was to intimidate or to silence or express their frustration – I think the exact opposite is gonna come from that,” Bernhard said.
The Jewish Federation also released a statement on the event, condemning the spray painting.
“This is especially heinous behavior given that this past week, the world commemorated the 70th anniversary of the liberation of Auschwitz,” said Barry Broad, President of the Board of The Jewish Federation of the Sacramento Region. “Unfortunately, the lessons that history has taught us about the culture of hate have not been heeded by everyone.”
On Saturday night, campus groups that pushed the University’s divestment from Israel issued a statement condemning the swastikas and rejecting any blame placed on their movement. The statement was also signed by Armando Figueroa, President of the Associated Students of UC Davis, as well as many other campus groups.
A petition was released on nationbuilder.com, calling for all UC Davis administrative officials, as well as every ASUCD elected representative, to condemn the act. “Should there not be a unanimous condemnation, then we ask for the immediate resignation of every official who refuses to condemn this act of hate.”
The Davis Police Department is investigating the graffiti as a hate crime. Anyone with information is asked to call police at (530) 747-5400.