Berkeley College Republicans sign destroyed

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Daniel Kim/Staff

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An individual — whose name has yet to be released — broke apart a sign belonging to the Berkeley College Republicans on Sproul Plaza on Tuesday.

The student was peacefully engaging in discussion at the BCR booth with members before he grabbed the sign and began to destroy it, according to BCR member Naweed Tahmas. The sign, a hand-painted wood panel which read “Berkeley College Republicans,” was the private property of the organization.

This is not the first time the BCR has addressed incidents of vandalism to its booth on Sproul Plaza. In September, the club’s cardboard cutout of Donald Trump was torn up, according to BCR member Troy Worden. Additionally, the BCR saw heightened instances of violence toward members on campus in the months leading up to and after the election.

“We had members get pepper sprayed, sucker-punched and verbally and physically assaulted for voicing their opinions and beliefs,” said Celine Bookin, head of communications for BCR.

Associate Chancellor Nils Gilman sent a campuswide email Wednesday condemning the recent events.

“Let there be no mistake: The campus administration condemns all acts of vandalism and attempted intimidation,” Gilman said in the statement. “These matters are now under investigation by UCPD, with the aim of identifying the perpetrators and imposing appropriate consequences.”

Harshil Bansal, political director of Cal Democrats, said that this kind of incident should not have occurred, regardless of ideological differences.

Repeated instances of vandalism such as this one have led BCR members in recent months to expect and prepare for the antagonism they face on a daily basis, according to Worden.

“(The) right is not using violence against the left,” he said, referring to these events as “political terrorism.”

Worden and Tahmas both said they feel the administration doesn’t do enough to ensure that BCR members are safe and included in the campus community. Worden cited the series of emails sent by Chancellor Nicholas Dirks before the Milo Yiannopoulos visit, which Worden said members of BCR felt were polarizing and served to distance the campus from the BCR.

Campus spokesperson Dan Mogulof said the BCR is a student organization in good standing and that it receives the same treatment and respect from the administration as other student organizations do.

Still, Tahmas said these events need to be better addressed through better methods of communication on behalf of campus law enforcement.

“Actions speak louder than words,” Tahmas said.

Members of the BCR worked with UCPD to identify the student, and UCPD has assigned a detective to investigate the case, according to Tahmas. Tahmas added that he and other BCR members want to work more closely with UCPD and campus administration to create open discussions about how to better protect members of the club.

UCPD could not be reached for comment as of press time.

Contact Ani Vahradyan at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @anivahrad.