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October 6, 2021 1:03 pm

Yale Police Investigate After Building Twice Vandalized With Antisemitic, Racist Graffiti


avatar by Dion J. Pierre

Yale University in New Haven, Connecticut. Photo: Wikimedia Commons

Yale University police said Tuesday they are investigating after a campus building was found defaced with racist and antisemitic graffiti twice in recent weeks, drawing concern and calls for solidarity from Jewish community leaders.

In a message to the community, Yale University Police Chief Ronnell Riggins described two instances of vandalism discovered at the Kline Biology Tower, which has been closed off due to ongoing construction.

“Around 11:30 p.m. on Saturday, October 2, security cameras recorded several young adults who had scaled the perimeter fencing and broken into the Kline construction,” Higgins said. “They vandalized indoor areas of the building and spray-painted antisemitic and racist language on interior surfaces.”

Racist and antisemitic graffiti were earlier discovered by construction workers at the site on Sept. 20, Higgins said — prompting a criminal investigation and a fortifying of the area with perimeter fencing, access gates, and additional security cameras. Higgins said that the two incidents may be related, and that investigations into both were active.

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The building had closed for renovation in 2019 following an electrical fire in the basement that caused extensive damage and destroyed important equipment and biological samples, according to Yale Daily News.

Early Wednesday, organizations representing Jewish life at Yale, including the Slifka Center, Yale Hillel, and Kehillah, called the graffiti a “grotesque visual display of hatred.”

“The legacies of antisemitic and racist violence in America are old; they are also frighteningly alive today, and are part of a larger web of hatred of which graffiti is a small but non-trivial element,” wrote leaders of the groups in an email to the Yale community.  “In this moment of rising violence against Jews and other minorities in America, even symbolic incidents like this one take on larger and darker meanings, particularly for our community’s many Jews of color, who are affected in multiple, intersecting ways.”

They continued, “It is a religious imperative to discern God’s handiwork in the variety of human forms, and a commandment of memory to reject any and every hierarchy that one group may impose on another. So we join together with all the targets of this crime in an embrace of our shared dignity across, and because of, our differences — and our collective strength.”

Yale University President Peter Salovey said he had asked Yale Police and Yale Security to increase patrols on campus,.

“I am outraged by these despicable and cowardly acts of hate, and I am deeply saddened that the crew working on the site, members of our police department, and others within our community who have responded to these incidents had to see such vile messages,” he said in a Tuesday statement. “Yale has stood and will continue to stand united against acts of hate.”

Yale police also released photographs of the suspects filmed at Kline Biology Tower on Saturday, and asked the public to contact the department with any identifying information.

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