[UPDATED]: Joel DeSpain, Madison Police Department spokesperson, said MPD is aware of the graffiti incidents that happened on Langdon Street and is currently investigating. DeSpain said MPD has increased patrols in the area where graffiti has been reported.
Greg Steinberger, executive director of UW Hillel, said he knows of an officer who is actively assigned to and working on the incidents.
Despain said he doesn’t have the specific date of when the graffiti started, but it “sounds like” it has been happening within the last week-and-a-half.
MPD has been in communication with the Madison Jewish Federation, DeSpain said. Both are concerned people will copy the graffiti, DeSpain said.
Since the first three locations of graffiti were identified, two more were found on the University of Wisconsin’s campus at the University Bookstore and near Engineering. Both will be dealt with by UWPD since they are not in MPD’s jurisdiction, DeSpain said.
[UPDATED]: Two new instances of anti-Semitic graffiti found on UW campus[UPDATED]: Two instances of white supremacist graffiti were located on the University of Wisconsin campus, one on the University Bookstore Read…
DeSpain said anyone with more information should call Crime Stoppers at (608) 266-6014. He encouraged anyone who sees graffiti happening in the future to call 911.
Steinberger said in his 15 years at UW, he has seen instances of anti-Semitism in the past, but not a series of graffiti instances around campus like this. He said the incidents are “terrible” and “unacceptable.”
“We are saddened and outraged that this is happening in our community,” Steinberger said.
In the past few weeks, white supremacist graffiti has been found on buildings in University of Wisconsin’s Greek community on Langdon Street, some on or near buildings that are associated with Jewish communities.
Barb Kautz Wittwer, assistant director of involvement at the UW Center for Leadership and Development, said the graffiti was found in three different locations. One was adjacent to a sorority house of a historically Jewish organization, the other was on another sorority house and the third was on the building of a non-Greek Jewish organization that serves Jewish students, Kautz Wittwer said.
Kautz Wittwer did not reveal the specific locations of the graffiti. She believes the graffiti that was found on the sorority house has been removed, but was not sure about the other two locations.
One of the instances of graffiti was found on a wall in the backyard of the Jewish Experience of Madison building.
The graffiti was comprised of two symbols that have both been historically used by white supremacists, according to the Anti-Defamation League’s website. One symbol is called a Wolfsangel, Kautz Wittwer said.
The Wolfsangel was an initial symbol for the Nazi party, according to the Anti-Defamation League, and is a symbol used for neo-Nazis in Europe and the United States.
Kautz Wittwer said the other symbol is known as a Valknot, a racist symbol some white supremacists use.
Two sorority members were also recently greeted with a “Heil Hitler” when leaving their chapter home, Kautz Wittwer said.
Kautz Wittwer sent an email out to the Greek Community notifying them of the “acts of discrimination.”
Kautz Wittwer said she recommended the students report the events to the university as a hate and bias incident.
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John Lucas, UW spokesperson, said UW is aware of the graffiti incidents and is trying to learn more.
“We are aware of a number of these different symbols that have cropped up not only on campus, but off campus, and we have received a hate and bias report about them,” Lucas said.
Lucas said he believes the Madison Police Department is currently investigating the graffiti incidents.
“I believe the Madison police are also investigating the symbols that are in the city, which I believe there have been a number of also,” Lucas said.
Ed Marshall, MPD spokesperson, said he did not know if the graffiti incidents currently had anyone assigned to them, but that MPD would investigate graffiti that happened in the city if it had been reported.
Marshall said he could not confirm the specific locations of the incidents without an open records request, but there was an incident of graffiti reported, which occurred near the house of the Jewish Experience of Madison, in the 200 block of Langdon. There was another incident of graffiti recently reported in the 100 block of Langdon, Marshall said.
If the incidents involved Greek life, Marshall said he would expect MPD to coordinate with the university.
“My guess is that … because of recent events, we would be coordinating with the university, so we might be pulling resources there,” Marshall said.
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University of Wisconsin Police Department spokesperson Marc Lovicott said UWPD is not involved in the investigation since Langdon is off of campus property and the incidents are in MPD’s jurisdiction.
Lucas said UW thinks this is part of a bigger campus issue and is concerned about the incidents.
“We think it’s a broader issue at this moment than simply campus, but we’re of course concerned, and we’ll try to learn more,” Lucas said.
UW Hillel, Panhellenic Association and JEM did not immediately respond to requests for comment.
This post will be updated as more information is released.