Tuesday, July 16, 2024

University student arrested for alleged hate crime during Holocaust Remembrance Week

NewsCampus NewsUniversity student arrested for alleged hate crime during Holocaust Remembrance Week

RISHA INAGANTI
Editor-in-Chief





NYA WYNN
Co-Managing News Editor





Content warning: This article contains direct quotations of hateful comments towards Jewish people.

A 23-year-old university student was arrested May 8 on three charges. Their charges include a hate crime with an underlying offense, criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

The undergraduate student was taken into custody after witnesses allegedly saw them destroying approximately ten flags on The Green, where Hillel Student Life had set up a demonstration to recognize Holocaust Remembrance Week. 

The university-approved memorial consisted of 1,100 flags set up in multiple rows. Signage described that each flag was in remembrance of 10,000 people who died during the Holocaust. Different flag colors were chosen to represent different affected groups, including Jewish individuals, Soviet prisoners of war and non-Jewish Polish citizens. 

Audrey Tong/THE REVIEW

According to court documents, witnesses of the event allegedly overheard the individual  shouting vulgar statements including “f— the Jews” and “Jewish people are nasty, free Palestine” from “multiple yards away.”

Court documents went on to state that they were “frustrated and triggered by the Holocaust memorial flag display and had intentionally damaged the flags out of frustration.” 

Donna Schwartz, executive director at the university’s Hillel, shared her feelings on the occurrence in a written statement to The Review. 

“Hillel at the University of Delaware is deeply disturbed that a Holocaust Remembrance Week flag display on The Green was vandalized and damaged by a person who was shouting hateful antisemitic slurs,” Schwartz wrote. “The intentional destruction of a display that commemorates the Holocaust and honors the memories of the 11 million people who were murdered is unacceptable. There is no room at the University of Delaware for this kind of targeted hatred.”

A day after the incident, a message was sent out to the university community by university President Dennis Assanis, who conveyed a joint message with Vice President for Institutional Equity Fatimah Conley and Vice President for Student Life José-Luis Riera. 

“It is with great disappointment that we need to speak about an incident on our campus that disregarded not only our UD values, but also the law, and is being charged as a hate crime,” the statement read. 

In addition to the arrest and three charges, the statement noted that the student has been banned from campus, noting that the undergraduate was also in violation of the Student Code of Conduct and the university’s Non-Discrimination Policy

“Such abhorrent incidents have no place on our campus,” the university statement read. “Any acts of discrimination, racism, violence, or destructive behavior that are directed at any group and threaten the wellbeing of our community will be addressed immediately. As Blue Hens, we must support one another and draw strength from our shared culture of respect, civil discourse and sense of belonging.”

The alleged hate crime came less than a month after another university-labeled hate crime, in which Israeli flags were removed from The Green and placed in a trash can.

“We appreciate the university administration’s swift response to address this incident and the clear message that hatred will not be tolerated at the University of Delaware,” Schwartz wrote in her statement. “Our Jewish community is strong.”

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