Racist and anti-Semitic slurs and drawings were found throughout the Information Technology and Engineering Building around noon on Saturday, Jan. 14. Multiple surfaces in the building, along with posters and fliers, were covered with hate-speech and symbols directed at the Jewish faith.
According to UMBC Deputy Chief of Police Paul Dillon, the most common word used by the perpetrator was “Jew,” however he added that, “There were also some Stars of David that were frequently used throughout [the building], ‘jew propaganda’ was another term used and [that] there was one reverse swastika drawn.”
Many of the defiled posters and fliers contained pictures of faculty members on them. It is currently unclear whether any of these members were intentionally targeted, seeing as both people of Jewish and non-Jewish faith were included in the act of defamation.
The UMBC Police Department categorized the incident as a “hate crime.” Dillon explained, “What makes something a hate crime is you have to have a crime, which in this case was destruction of property and then we have to determine if the motivation was a bias against a certain group.” Many of the depictions were drawn in permanent marker.
There were no cameras in the area where the incident occurred.
President Freeman Hrabowski released a campus-wide email on Jan. 18, alerting students that “racist language and imagery had been found in the ITE Building.” He added that “our community views racist and discriminatory language, imagery and actions as deeply harmful and counter to our values.”
Senior Richard Elliott said that Hrabowski’s email “was the original source of the story for the overwhelming majority of the student body. The school understandably wants privacy on certain things, but I believe students and staff have a right to information on situations like this to help avoid these situations in the future.”
He added that the reaction on social media was one of “total confusion” and that several students had asked him what happened, to which he responded with a puzzled look and a promise to “let them know as soon as [he] could.”
A similar anti-Semitic crime took place last semester on Sep. 4, when a Patapsco Hall residential assistant of Jewish descent had swastika symbols placed in the suggestion box on her door. When asked if the Police Department perceives the two events to be related in any way, Dillon replied that it does not.