Mysterious Swastika Incident at Yale Law School

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On October 8th, the Yale Daily News reported:

Late Saturday night – between the Jewish High Holy Days of Rosh Hashanah and Yom Kippur – anti-Semitic graffiti appeared on the steps of the side entrance to Yale Law School.

The graffiti depicted a white, spray-painted swastika above the word “Trump.” By noon on Sunday, the graffiti was covered with black paint and a doormat. It has since been removed entirely. On Monday, Yale Law School Dean Heather Gerken issued a statement to the YLS community reaffirming the school’s values, offering support and notifying the community of an upcoming investigation.

“We are saddened by this act of hate against our community at any time but understand that this is particularly difficult occurring between the High Holy Days,” said Ellen Cosgrove, associate dean of students at Yale Law School. “Diversity and inclusion are core values of our institution [and] attacks against individual students or communities of students will not be tolerated.”

Gerken emphasized that there is no evidence that a member of the Yale community painted the swastika, and stressed that the act of anti-Semitism is “utterly antithetical” to the values of the Law School.

“Yale Law School has zero tolerance for discrimination or harassment of any kind, and symbols of hate have no place on our campus or in our society,” Gerken said. “We take an incident like this extremely seriously and are currently investigating.”

Gerken encouraged anyone with information to reach out to her office.

Organizations in the Yale community, such as the Law School’s Office of Student Affairs and the Joseph Slifka Center for Jewish Life, responded to the incident on Monday, condemning the action and offering support to students.

Rabbi Jason Rubenstein, Jewish chaplain at Yale, wrote in an email to the Slifka community Monday evening that the investigation into the perpetrator’s identity is ongoing and is “relying on video footage from late Saturday night and early Sunday morning.

Anyone who has been following such “Trump plus swastika in very liberal environments” incidents would immediately suspect one of two things: (1) a hoax; or, perhaps more likely (2) the vandal(s) in question weren’t trying to say “I support Trump and he’s a Nazi,” but rather “I hate Trump because he’s a Nazi.” Nevertheless, everyone at Yale treated this immediately as a presumptive hate crime.

Having seen the initial reports, I checked google for any followup. There was none that I could find. I wrote to Dean Gerken:

Dear Heather,

I just checked Google, and there appears to be no news about the swastika incident in the last several days. Early reports said that video surveillance existed to help identify the perpetrators. Has this video been released to the public yet to help the identification? If not, why not? Writing in my capacity as a blogger for Instapundit and the Volokh Conspiracy.
I received the following reply:

Hi, Professor Bernstein. Dean Gerken said that you had inquired about the graffiti incident last week. Any updates on the status of the investigation would have to come from the Yale Police Department.


Jan Conroy Chief Communications Officer Yale Law School

I responded:

Ms. Conroy, with all due respect, the law school sent out a release about this and would be the owner of the relevant surveillance video. Is there some reason the law school hasn’t released the surveillance footage? Surely that would help identify the guilty parties.

That was Monday. I have not received a reply. I tried reaching out to the Yale police department, but was unable to reach a spokesperson.

Having informed law school and broader communities that a hate crime took place at the law school, I find it mysterious that the school has neither released the surveillance footage nor provided any updates as to the progress of the investigation.

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