Anti-Semitic graffiti spotted at GrandMarc

Student groups condemn vandalism as hate speech

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Graffiti on the side of the GrandMarc apartment building

Courtesy Michaela Brown

Student groups are condemning anti-Semitic graffiti that was spotted Sunday outside of the GrandMarc apartment complex on 15th Street.

“The imagery painted at GrandMarc is intended to intimidate Jewish students and make them feel uncomfortable in their community,” Student Council and the Jewish Leadership Council said in a joint statement Sunday night.

The groups characterized the graffiti — which depicted an orange Star of David with the word “Juden” underneath it — as hate speech.

Juden is the German word for Jews.

“It’s direct Holocaust imagery and that’s what’s problematic about it,” third-year College student Michaela Brown said. “It was graffiti that was used to vandalize Jewish shops and homes and destroy them.”

Student Council and the Jewish Leadership Council also noted the historic significance of the graffiti.

“The continued use of this symbol draws on memories of Nazi Germany to incite fear,” their statement said. “Even while significant progress has been made in the United States to promote tolerance, anti-Semitism persists.”

Brown — who is Jewish and lives in GrandMarc — said she first became aware of the graffiti around 1 p.m. and saw it for herself later in the afternoon.

She also noticed two other pieces of graffiti on GrandMarc in similar orange paint, one which said “Satan” and another which depicted a pentagram.

Brown said she reported the graffiti to GrandMarc and was told it would be cleaned up. She also reported the graffiti to the University Police Department.

“If it does escalate into a repeated incident, it’s good for [UPD] to at least know about this specific incident,” Brown said.

Jordan Fingerhut, third-year College student and GrandMarc resident, said she first saw one of the Satan-related marks of graffiti after 11 a.m. Sunday and became aware of the Star of David graffiti when a friend texted her about it few hours later.

“I’m horrified,” Fingerhut said. “I’m a Jewish student here on Grounds … and I can’t believe that members of our community or members of the area would vandalize and write something so hurtful and so anti-Semitic.”

This graffiti follows an incident in which the N-word and other racial slurs were found written on doors in the Kent-Dabney Dorm Association. Chalkings targeting minority and transgender individuals were also found around Grounds in April.

“No matter which group it’s targeting, there’s been those kinds of incidents in general this year and that’s what’s troublesome to me,” Brown said. “It’s important that we continue to speak out against hate toward any group — against the Muslim community, against the black community, against the LGBTQ community.”

Fingerhut said when she returned to her apartment after 7 p.m., she found an attempt had been made to remove the graffiti.

“You could still see through it and see the writing,” she said.

The graffiti was located near the intersection of 15th Street and Sadler Street. While the marks are not immediately visible now, some paint does show through.

“Generally, people assume anti-Semitism doesn't exist because they don't see it. It does,” Jewish Leadership Council Chair Sam Magnes, a fourth-year Batten student, said in an email statement. “This should be a wake up call for everyone in the U.Va. community to stand up against any sort of discrimination.”

Magnes said she was shocked when she learned of the incident from another JLC member.

“Besides a few microagressions here and there, I almost always felt safe being Jewish at U.Va.,” Magnes said. “Today that was threatened. This incident was not a harmless prank, but a direct attempt to make Jewish students feel unsafe and unwelcome.”

University Dean of Students Allen Groves emailed an image of the anti-Semitic graffiti to the student body late Sunday evening and called on students who have any information about the graffiti to provide that information through the University’s Just Report It system.

Groves said many students reported the graffiti using the system and the University has been in contact with Charlottesville Police and GrandMarc’s management.

“Although the GrandMarc is private property, it also represents the home of a great many students,” Groves said in the email. “As a community, we categorically reject this type of hateful message, which is anathema to our shared values of inclusiveness and trust.”

Ben Rexrode, crime prevention coordinator for the University Police Department, said the incident was reported to the Charlottesville Police Department.

Lt. Steve Upman with the Charlottesville Police Department said his department received a report that the graffiti appeared between 1 a.m. on Oct. 22 and 4:15 p.m. on Oct. 23.

GrandMarc maintenance removed the graffiti and Charlottesville Police do not have any suspects at this time, Upman said.

The Cavalier Daily reached out to GrandMarc for comment Sunday evening and will update this article will any responses.

This article has been updated to include responses from the Charlottesville Police Department and University Police Department. 

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