Three swastikas were found last week on walls at U.C. Berkeley’s Clark Kerr campus residence hall, according to Marty Takimoto, communications director for residential and student service programs.
An unknown vandal or vandals used a ballpoint pen to draw the first swastika, which was reported to the U.C. Police Department on April 21. Two more swastikas, etched with pencil on the wall outside a restroom, were reported two days later.
Police are investigating the swastikas as hate incidents, Takimoto said, though he added that there was no evidence suggesting the drawings were directed at a specific student or group.
Staff at the residence hall, which houses more than 500 students, quickly covered up the swastikas with posters. After authorities concluded their investigation, and within eight hours of being reported, the swastikas were painted over.
Takimoto said students were speculating about a possible motive behind the vandalism, giving significant consideration to the resolution before U.C. Berkeley’s student senate urging divestment from Israel.
“Tensions are high on both sides,” Takimoto said, “but there was nothing about the swastikas that directed [police] to the divestment issue at all.”
Several Jewish students were planning a protest on Sproul Plaza from noon to 2 p.m. Friday, April 30 titled “Hidden Hate,” which focused on fighting anti-Semitism on campus. Organizers said the event would focus strictly on anti-Semitism, not the divestment resolution or “Israel debate” also going on at U.C. Berkeley. As of press time, 300 students had planned to attend, with more than 1,500 on the invite list.
— amanda pazornik