Emory frat house re-painted to remove crude graffiti, swastikas

Fresh paint hid the crude graffiti on an Emory University Jewish fraternity house on Monday. But the messages of swastikas and prejudice weren’t so easily covered up, as University leaders vowed to find those responsible and convey a strong message: the offensive vandalism won’t be tolerated.

Officials confirmed Monday evening that other anti-Semitic marks had been found earlier in the day on a wall near the fraternity house that was targeted over the weekend. Emory police are investigating whether the crude swastikas found on the wall are new or part of the original incident, university spokeswoman Beverly Clark told The Atlanta Journal-Constitution.

Early Sunday, the Alpha Epsilon Pi house was targeted, within hours of the observance of Yom Kippur, the holiest day of the year in Judaism.

In an exclusive interview with The AJC, the fraternity president –who asked that his name not be used – said he believes the second set of swastikas is a separate incident.

“It seems inconceivable that no one would have seen it,” he said. “It’s near a sidewalk where hundreds of people walk every day.”

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Twenty-six students — not all of them Jewish — live in the fraternity house. Before Sunday’s incident, they had not received any other anti-Semitic threats, the president said. This is the junior history and economics major’s second year living in the fraternity house.

“One of the biggest things we’ve gotten out of this event is that this is not a prejudiced community,” the president said. “There has been a tremendous amount of support from everyone in the community regardless of creed or ethnic background. The hate incident came from an individual that does not embody Emory morals.”

Late Sunday, university President Jim Wagner addressed the graffiti in a campus-wide email.

“On behalf of our community, I denounce this abhorrent act,” Wagner said. “It is an offense against a Jewish fraternity and the Jewish members of our community, and it is a repugnant, flagrant emblem of anti-Semitism. It is also an offense against the entire university.”

Sunday night, Emory’s student government association asked students to wear blue Monday in support of the Jewish community. Monday morning, the graffiti was addressed at a regularly scheduled meeting among campus religious leaders, with a rabbi calling the incident isolated.

“It’s not like this is an indication of something lying underneath,” Rabbi Zalman Lipskier, Chabad rabbi at Emory, told The AJC. “The Jewish community is very welcome here and is part of the community here.”

Lipskier said the students living in the fraternity house were initially dazed and angry.

“Now it’s about showing their Jewish pride,” Rabbi Lipskier said. “The best reaction to the random act is to show random acts of love, and to show love to the community that supports them.”

The Anti-Defamation League and Jewish Federation of Greater Atlanta also decried the vandalism, with both groups issuing statements praising Emory for its quick response and intolerance of the acts.

“We feel like it is time to move on from this being a Jewish issue, and not it’s time to address it as hatred and discrimination in the community as a whole,” the fraternity president said.

Additional campus officers patrolled the area around the fraternity house Monday. Anyone with information about those responsible is asked to contact Emory police at 404-727-6111.

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