Swastikas hit Davis while Irvine protesters back hecklers

(JWeekly) Three swastikas were found spray painted on the U.C. Davis campus early March 3, less than a week after U.C. President Mark Yudof condemned the “acts of racism, intolerance and incivility” that have plagued several University of California campuses in recent weeks.

The latest incident at Davis came on the heels of a freshman student finding a two-inch swastika carved into her dorm room door last week.

A spokesman for the campus police department said U.C. Davis authorities this week have following up on several leads. Authorities consider it to be a hate crime. The symbol was sanded out of the door by the end of last week.

Because the three swastikas found early March 3 were in public places — on a walkway, campus building and on a U.C. Davis street sign — the incidents are being investigated as vandalism, not hate crimes, university police chief Annette Spicuzza told the Sacramento Bee. The graffiti was quickly cleaned up.

A day earlier at U.C. Irvine, hundreds of protesters converged on the administration building in support of 11 students who were arrested for disrupting a speech last month by Michael Oren, Israel’s ambassador to the United States.

The protest, convened by the Muslim Student Union and several other campus groups, was met by a counterdemonstration of about 60 people organized by local Jewish student groups. The Jewish Federation of Orange County has called for the “Irvine 11” to be prosecuted.

Both groups reportedly shouted at each other outside the administration building. No violence was reported.

Supporters of the arrested students said they were objecting to what they claim is the “conflating” of the incident with other recent acts at U.C. campuses: the dorm-room door swastika at U.C. Davis and the recent discovery of a noose in the library at U.C. San Diego.

U.C. Irvine alumnus Marya Bangee told the Orange County Register there is no connection between the other events and the “Irvine 11.”

“This is about free speech and student activism,” she said.

At U.C. Davis, a group of students had planned a March 3 rally to demonstrate their opposition to bigotry even before that day’s discovery of the three swastikas. On Feb. 27, the campus center for lesbian and gay students was vandalized with offensive graffiti.

Anyone with information about the acts of vandalism at U.C. Davis is asked to call campus police at (530) 752-8943.

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