Public Safety Searches for Suspects in Hate-Related Vandalism by Anthony Viola
The NYPD and City College authorities are involved in an ongoing investigation of anti-Semitic graffiti reported on campus on December 7. A student found derogatory language written in pencil on a brown window frame in one of the rooms on the fifth floor of the North Academic Center where the Jewish Studies department is located.
About 1.5 inches wide and two feet long, it was discovered in a room where Jewish students often pray if the adjacent rooms are being occupied for other reasons. Public Safety declined to specify exactly what had been written.
City College joins a growing number of colleges and public institutions that have reported hate crimes since Donald Trump was elected president in November. In the month following the election, the Southern Poverty Law Center reports over 1,000 bias-related incidents across the nation, most targeting immigrants, Muslims, blacks and LGBT individuals. More than 100 involved swastika vandalism.
According to Public Safety Lieutenant Anthony Laperuta, this kind of incident has rarely occurred at CCNY. “It’s the first time in my four years here that I’ve seen anything like this,” says Laperuta.
When the NYPD’s Evidence Collection Team became involved, it immediately marked the scene a hate crime. The Executive Director of Public Safety, Pat Morena, states that the placement of the graffiti “amps up the crime,” especially since “very offensive language” was involved.
Like the authorities, students are taking the incident seriously. Helen Seif, Vice President of the CCNY Chabad, a Jewish religious student group, was shocked when she learned the news. “I have always been a proud and unapologetic Jewish student, and such an event hurts me personally,” states Seif. “Hopefully, CCNY’s zero-tolerance policy will be all that’s needed to combat such an event.”
Interim President Vincent Boudreau acted swiftly, addressing the incident in an e-mail to the faculty and students on December 8. He condemned the act, deeming it a hate crime. “I also wanted to say how heart sick this kind of thing makes me, and should make us all,” says Boudreau.
Although the investigation is still open, the graffiti is no longer there. “At this time, it’s been cleaned,” Laperuta states. “CUNY and CCNY are zero-tolerance organizations that will continue to condemn such acts.”
While the graffiti left its mark, students are happy with the administration’s response to the ordeal. “The administration’s quick and decisive response is greatly appreciated by myself and the Jewish community here at large,” says Seif.
Seif, her colleagues, and many others hope that incidents like these remain isolated. Meanwhile, Public Safety continues to work to prevent them. “We encourage anyone with any information to come forward to us and explain what their motives are,” requests Laperuta.