UCPD investigates anti-Semitic threats against professor in Kroeber Hall

Photo of Kroeber Hall
Karen Chow/File
The Building Name Review Committee's unanimous vote to unname Kroeber Hall came as a result of the role Alfred Louis Kroeber, the building's namesake, played in the exclusion and erasure of Native Americans. According to a campuswide email from Chancellor Carol Christ, this decision is less about condemning Kroeber than about creating a more inclusive campus.

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UCPD is investigating a report of anti-Semitic writings at Kroeber Hall on Tuesday, according to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich.

In response to the incident, Chancellor Carol Christ, Academic Senate Chair Lisa Alvarez-Cohen and ASUC President Zaynab AbdulQadir-Morris sent an email with the subject “No tolerance for hate” on Tuesday, informing students of the incident in which a professor was targeted with an anonymous threatening, anti-Semitic message.

“Unfortunately, hateful messages targeted at marginalized groups on our campus are more common than any of us would like to believe. And while not all incidents rise to the level of requiring a police investigation as this one does, they are nonetheless damaging and odious,” the email stated.

Benjamin Brinner, faculty director for the Center for Jewish studies, said he received reports that the incident involved an anti-Semitic message posted outside of the office of a Jewish professor. Brinner said he believes this was especially disturbing as the threatening messages called for the death of a teacher.

“The message mentioned Hitler and called for killing the professor, using an extremely racist epithet for ‘Jew,’ ” Brinner said.

Brinner said he knows more students who have been affected by hate-related incidents like this than teachers, but he added that this type of anti-Semitic attacks is a “particularly ugly manifestation” of attack and is an ongoing problem.

“In instances such as this, the target is an individual; in other instances, a swastika or some other offensive statement is posted in a public place,” Brinner said.

In September 2016, another email was sent out, warning the campus community of posters that had been put up throughout the community that UC Berkeley administration said contained anti-Semitic rhetoric.

Also in 2016, the UC Board of Regents revised the Principles Against Intolerance to specifically condemn anti-Semitism and anti-Zionism in light of anti-Semitic attacks at that time.

Brinner cited FBI hate-crime statistics for 2016 to highlight that more than 50 percent of religious based hate crimes are against Jewish people, which is more than twice the amount of hate crimes targeting Muslims. The FBI data also shows that hate crimes generally have been increased in 2016.

Brinner said that he views the “No tolerance for hate” email as a strong initial response by the university to the incident.

“We take hate-related incidents seriously because we understand the negative impact these incidents have in our community,” Reich said.

UCPD is not releasing any more information about the event at this time but encourages anyone with information on the incident to report it to the department.

Contact Kate Tinney at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter at @K_Tinney.