Swastika found on student’s car: Incident leads to hate crime investigation

A swastika was scratched into the driver’s-side door of a student’s parked car in the Salem End Lot on April 2, according to a campus-wide email sent by Chief Diversity and Inclusion Officer Sean Huddleston.

The car was parked in Salem End Lot from 10:15 a.m until 2 p.m, said FSU Campus Police in a Facebook post. “This incident is being investigated as a Hate Crime.”

This is the fourth hate crime that has occurred on FSU campus this academic year, according to Deputy Chief of Police John Santoro.

“It’s a lot [of hate crimes] probably for this campus, but it’s very relative. There are other universities that deal with more than 10 in one semester,” said Huddleston.

The Bias Protocol and Response Team will be working with FSU Campus Police to investigate this hate crime, according to Huddleston.

The team was created in January to “create a protocol and a reporting method.” While the team is developing a plan, they are required to work with Campus Police on hate crimes and consider bias incidents individually.

The team is awaiting an update from FSU Campus Police on this incident to “find out what steps we need to take,” said Huddleston.

Thew incident was covered by several local news outlets, including CBS Boston, MetroWest Daily News and WCVB. It also made its way onto conservative news site, Breitbart.com.

Seth Greenwald, a student at Clark University, was sent a picture of the swastika by a friend of his who knew the vehicle’s owner. He said, “As far as I know, this was not a hate crime directed at this particular student as the student himself is not Jewish. The student was unaware why he was targeted, and I myself am confused.”

Greenwald said he believes FSU has “taken all the right steps, condemning the vandalism as anti-Semitism, taking action with the police, and seeking a way to address anti-Semitism on the campus as a whole.”

He added, “My personal suggestion is that they should put more cameras in the parking lot, considering this happened where cameras had previously been taken down.”

According to Associate Vice President of Facilities and Capital Planning Warren Fairbanks, there are no security cameras installed in Salem End Road Parking lot yet. A data line has to be run from Linsley Hall across the street to the parking lot in order to set up security cameras.

“We ran out of time last year and the town does not allow you to dig a trench across the street after November. This line will be installed this spring and the camera should be installed later this spring.”

Junior Paul John Iarussi said of the incident, “You’d think you’d leave all that stuff in highschool. … It’s just childish.”

Former FSU student Ryden Hope said, “It sounds to me like it had to be directed towards one person and I’d be scared if I was that person.”

Sophomore Cindy Nelson said, “The best way to prevent [hate crimes] is to educate people on why neo-Nazism is wrong.”

Huddleston said, “Any bias incident or any hate crime impedes our progress of reaching inclusive excellence and developing, and creating, an environment that is welcoming and safe for everybody.

“These are situations that cannot be tolerated and will be addressed.”

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