More UCF cases of anti-Semitic vandalism reported
Still searching for those behind recent cases of anti-Semitic vandalism, the UCF Police Department released reports Tuesday, revealing even more instances of swastikas found on campus.
The university was first made aware of the vandalism after a Central Florida Future newsstand near Tower IV was defaced with a sticker that showed the Star of David and the words "1%" and "Bankers" underneath, and a second sticker that had a swastika on a flag. Officer Greg Larkin determined the stickers had been removed.
UCF Police released footage last month of possible suspects. Public information officer Courtney Gilmartin said detectives are continuing to follow up on tips that came after the release.
The footage was from the night of Nov. 15, the same day that Alexandria Behul, a residence assistant for on-campus housing, reported vandalism on her building’s bulletin board.
Previously, the board was covered in posters related to UCF Housing’s Diversity Month. When Behul arrived home that night, she found one sticker on the board and two off to the side that were of “racial context,” according to a police report. One sticker had a swastika and the others contained the phrases “Muh Holocaust” and “Truth is Treason In the empire of lies.” Officer Agustin Gonzalez and a partner analyzed video surveillance from the area but were unable to identify any suspects.
That same day, officer Ben Lewis responded to a call about anti-Semitic stickers placed on a community mailbox on Libra Drive. Joshua Cammarn, a resident assistant for on-campus housing, removed the “anti-Jewish” stickers and provided them to UCF PD, according to the report.
The next day, Samuel Miller, a resident assistant for Towers, contacted UCF PD to report the presence of anti-Semitic stickers on the bus stop in front of Tower III. The stickers had swastikas on them and it appeared someone had attempted to remove them, according to the report filed by officer Jerad Engel. There were no witnesses.
Earlier that day, a sticker with a Star of David and the phrase “1 percenters” was found on a street sign near the intersection of East Plaza Drive and Gemini Boulevard. The sticker was removed before a police report was filed.
On Nov. 18, Executive Director and CEO of Hillel of Central Florida Aaron Weil contacted police regarding anti-Semitic stickers on the organization’s front door and two others on a nearby newsstand. Security footage from the incident was provided to officer Ben Lewis and is in review.
The UCF Police Department released surveillance footage Nov. 25 of two men considered to be persons of interest in anti-Semitic vandalism on campus. Video courtesy UCF Police Department
More than 30 Jewish and civil rights groups have contacted university President John C. Hitt regarding the recent string of anti-Semitic crimes.
“These stickers and flyers not only promote vicious hatred towards Jews, they implicitly and explicitly incite violence against them. The widespread presence of these messages on your campus cannot help but threaten and frighten Jewish students,” the letter, provided by Nicole Rosen of Rosen Communications, states.
The letter was sent to Hitt and university Provost Dale Whittaker to voice the groups' concern for UCF's lack of action.
“We are dismayed that in the weeks since the stickers and flyers appeared, neither you nor any other UCF administrator has yet to publicly condemn these postings as antisemitic, specifically targeting Jewish students and causing them to feel threatened and unsafe,” the letter states.
The letter goes into depth on the vandalism found on UCF’s main campus. Next to the stickers, its authors claim, a note was found calling for a boycott on Israeli products with the reason that buying Israeli products supports the "murder and oppression" of Palestinians.
One flier, the letter states, had a swastika and the numbers “14/18.” The letter's authors explain that “14/18” is a common white supremacist code. The “14” stands for “14 words,” a phrase created by David Lane to mean, “we must secure the existence of our people and a future for white children.” The “88” stands for “Heil Hitler” as H is the eighth letter of the alphabet. The flier ended with a call-to-action “to join your local Nazis.”
UCF isn’t the only campus that has seen a rise in anti-Semitic vandalism. The University of Missouri had a swastika and the word “Heil” smeared onto the wall of a campus stairwell in charcoal back in April and then on the floor of a bathroom in feces in October. According to the letter, more than 20 college campuses have been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti in 2015 alone.
The groups encourage UCF to issue an immediate public condemnation of the anti-Semitic acts and to commit to educating UCF staff, students and police on anti-Semitic hate crimes and how to identify them. Those with information regarding these incidents can contact UCF PD at 407-823-5555.
The following organizations signed the letter: Alpha Epsilon Pi Fraternity (AEPi), Alums for Campus Fairness, AMCHA Initiative, American Association of Jewish Lawyers and Jurists, American Institute for Jewish Research, Americans for Peace and Tolerance, BEAR: Bias Education, Advocacy & Resources, Brandeis Center for Human Rights Under Law, Club Z, Committee for Accuracy in Middle East Reporting in America (CAMERA), CUFI on Campus, Davis Faculty for Israel, Eagles Wings, Endowment for Middle East Truth (EMET), Fuel For Truth, Hasbara Fellowships, Institute for Black Solidarity with Israel, Iranian American Jewish Federation, Israeli-American Council (IAC), Israel Peace Initiative (IPI), Jerusalem U, Jews Indigenous to the Middle East and North Africa (JIMENA), NCSY, Middle East Political and Information Network (MEPIN), Proclaiming Justice to the Nations , Scholars for Peace in the Middle East, Sigma Alpha Epsilon Pi , Simon Wiesenthal Center , Stop BDS on Campus, Students and Parents Against Campus Anti-Semitism, The Israel Christian Nexus, The Israel Group, Training and Education About the Middle East (T.E.A.M.), Zionist Organization of America
Alissa Smith is a Contributing Writer for the Central Florida Future.