KENT, Ohio — The Kent State Police Department is investigating after a swastika appeared to be painted on Kent State University’s campus in a stairway between Engelman Hall and Verder Hall.
The university said it’s unknown exactly when the swastika was painted.
“Its appearance serves as a reminder of the threat of extremism and the need for all of us to denounce the growing wave of racism, intolerance and violence in our nation. Kent State is committed to creating a community of kindness and respect, and the recent appearance of this symbol of hate is a reminder of the work ahead of us during perilous times," the university said in a statement to students.
The incident caught many students, teachers and organizations by surprise as the swastika is a symbol with a horrible history tied to it.
"It is a symbol that represents the murderous Nazi regime that killed six million Jews. And millions of others. It is antisemitic and it's traumatic," said James Pasch the Regina director of the Anti-defamation League.
Immediately after hearing the news, many Jewish groups responded including Chabad at Kent State and Hillel House condemning the violence.
"This campus is happiness and goodness, and does not have anything of the opposite" said Rabbi Berel Sasonkin the co-director of Chabad at Ken State.
For students who are concerned about someone’s mental well-being, counseling and psychological services are available Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., the university said.
The anti-semitic incident on Kent’s campus is at least the second one in Northeast Ohio reported this week.
On Monday, Orange High School lacrosse players said a Lake Catholic player had a swastika on his leg, according to the district's superintendent. The superintendent said a visitor also made anti-Semitic remarks during the game.
Lake Catholic has responded by saying it is "aware of the very serious allegations of anti-Semitism involving a player on the school’s varsity lacrosse team as well as a Lake Catholic fan during the game against Orange High School" and that the school is investigating.
James Pasch, The Regional Director of Anti Defamation League, says these hate crimes are apart of the increase being seen across the nation. Pasch believes the cause is tied to a few things.
"The increased polarization of the American public. The lack of leadership, from our elected officials from school board members to members of Congress, not calling out hate wherever and whenever they see it," said Pasch.
Adding, the one thing that'll help stop the rise is everyone coming together.
"You have to fight all kinds of hate and all kinds of bias. The best way to do that is to link arms, with everybody, organizations that represent the black community, and the LGBTQ community and the Muslim community and the Jewish community. The majority communities of this country need to all come together to fight hate together," said Pasch.
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