Yale University police are investigating after a campus building was vandalized with anti-Semitic and racist graffiti twice within the last few weeks, with Jewish groups calling the defacement a “grotesque visual display of hatred.”
Yale Police Chief Ronnell Higgins said in a message to the community that he was “disgusted and angered that these individuals have spread messages of hate and intolerance at this worksite.”
The first instance was found on September 20 by a construction crew who noticed that anti-Semitic graffiti had been spray painted inside the under construction Kline Biology Tower, and that construction materials had been destroyed. The next day, the Yale Police Department opened a criminal investigation, and security measures were increased, including installing security cameras at the construction site.
Then on October 2, at 11:30 p.m., security cameras captured a group of young adults scaling the site’s fence and breaking into the construction area.
They proceeded to vandalize indoor areas of the building, spray painting anti-Semitic and racist statements on interior surfaces.
“Yale Police are actively investigating both incidents, which may be related,” Higgins said.
He asked for students’ help in identifying the perpetrators captured in the security footage. Still images of the suspects were made available online.
“With President [Peter] Salovey’s support, my team and I are working intently to find those responsible,” he said. “We also have increased patrols on campus. This is our community, and we will work tirelessly to protect it.”
In a statement, Yale President Peter Salovey said that he was “outraged” by what he called “despicable and cowardly acts of hate.”
“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,” Salovey said.
The Kline Biology tower has been closed since a 2019 electrical fire in the basement caused serious damage and destroyed equipment, the Yale Daily News reported.
Campus Jewish organizations, including the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, Yale Hillel and Kihillah, condemned the graffiti as a “grotesque visual display of hatred.”
“The legacies of anti-Semitic 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,” leaders of the groups said in an email addressed 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.”