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Uptick in hate crimes worries UMBC community

In the month of August, UMBC had four hate crimes or acts of intolerance committed on campus. Four separate cases of intolerant and racially-charged vandalism were reported to the UMBC police department.

Three of the cases involved Swastikas drawn in permanent marker in bathrooms located in the Fine Arts and Public Policy buildings. Another was considered a hate crime by the UMBC police department as well as an act of vandalism towards UMBC property. As stated in a UMBC police report, a swastika was etched into a classroom desk.

There were no cameras or witnesses to any of the incidents.

“We’ve had drawings of swastikas in various locations, two being in bathrooms, three in classrooms,” said Deputy Chief of Police Paul Dillon. Four of the occurrences were categorized as acts of intolerance, while the etching on a desk was classified as a hate crime. Dillon added that UMBC police suspect a single individual may be behind the drawings, however, there are no further leads at this time.

Though recent, these incidents were not the first the UMBC community has faced. In January, The Retriever covered similar episodes of racial and religious hate crimes. At the time, stars of David, the term “Jew propaganda,” as well as another swastika were drawn throughout the Information Technology and Engineering building.

There is no apparent link between the January events and those carried out in August.

There has been an uptick in similar situations. Since last November, universities and colleges across the country have increasingly reported hate crimes and other acts of intolerance perpetrated on their campuses, from drawings such as those found at UMBC to nooses and fliers calling for violence and vigilante squads.

“One month having four acts of intolerance is a great increase statistically,” said Dr. Rebecca Boehling, Director of the Global Studies Program and Director for the minor program in Judaic Studies at UMBC. “I told the students in my Holocaust study class and they were greatly concerned.”

News of the recent acts of intolerance on campus comes soon after recent events in Charlottesville, Virginia made national news. President Hrabowski addressed them in a school-wide email, condemning the rallies and “racist, hate-filled ideology used by white supremacist and neo-Nazi groups to attack and instill fear in our fellow citizens.”