Friday, September 26, 2008

Posters Defaced in Apparent Berkeley Hate Crime

By Anneli Rufus
Fri, Sep 26, 2008 at 10:39 AM

On September 17, someone scribbled on a poster in a bus shelter alongside UC Berkeley's Eshleman Hall that had been placed there by the pro-Israel nonprofit Blue Star PR.

The police report concisely records it as vandalism "via: swastika." Five days later, that poster and others were vandalized again. Scrawling swastikas and Stars of David with equals signs between them, the vandals also firmly crossed out the words "Jews" and "Israel." Gabe Weiner, campus coordinator of the Israel Peace Initiative, was in Eshleman that night and saw the scrawls - which also included "Free Palestine" - as he exited the building. "I was angry," says the former ASUC senator, "but not totally surprised. This act is just a sign of a general level of anti-Semitism that unfortunately pervades both the city and the university." Chancellor Robert Birgenau swiftly issued a statement decrying what he called "this hateful act ... in this very busy student precinct," declaring that "we must speak out against this anti-Semitic obscenity" to "reflect the ideal of [a] global community here." Weiner was glad to see the letter, but he wishes such crimes were more thoroughly investigated, their perps located and prosecuted: Otherwise, "next time instead of vandalism there could be a physical attack on Jews or Jewish property." After he sent photographs of the vandalized signs to local media outlets, "the Oakland Tribune told us that it simply wasn't a story," Weiner says. Officer Andrew Frankel of the Berkeley PD reports that the initial incident was "investigated ... as a hate crime/vandalism," but that "there are no further investigative leads for us to follow."

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