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SLOPD investigating hate crime, anti-Semitic graffiti found outside Cal Poly Jewish fraternity house

AEPI photo 2.PNG
Posted at 10:28 PM, Feb 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-08 10:58:16-05

Shabbat is the day of rest for the Jewish community, but the last 24 hours have been anything but restful for the Jewish fraternity at Cal Poly.

On Saturday, members of Alpha Epsilon Pi woke up to find swastikas and and anti-Semitic phrases graffitied outside of their chapter house on Hathway Ave.

A day after anti-Semitic graffiti was found outside of the Jewish-affiliated fraternity, the hate speech has been washed away and now, members have been working to clean up the damage.

"[Anti-Semitism] is still extremely prevalent in today's world and today's society, and it was absolutely shocking to see something like that. It's obviously a targeted attack at the Jewish fraternity here," AEPi member, Sid Leipsic, said.

Noah Matlof, AEPi chapter president, said he and his fraternity brothers were disturbed to see the scene.

"It really hits home considering since last week was Holocaust Remembrance Day and obviously the swastika is a symbol that is used to represent the Nazi party who committed those terrible acts against the Jewish people," Matlof said.

Members say one painting of a symbol and slur was just outside of their front door, and another on the sidewalk outside of their fraternity, on public property.

"There was some foul slur written on top of that but we couldn't quite make it out because the handwriting was pretty bad but it was pretty easy to understand what it was implying with the swastika," Matlof said.

Leipsic said the brothers bought power washers and spent a majority of the day removing the graffiti.

"It is no longer visible, you can still tell where it is because it looks very washed, but the graffiti is at least gone," he said.

Cal Poly President Jeffrey Armstrong addressed the incident, writing an email to students and faculty that said in part:

Let us be perfectly clear: behavior that promotes any form of hate and seeks to make members of our community feel unsafe and unwelcome – especially in their own home – has absolutely no place in our community.

This incident occurred on the Shabbat, a day of religious observance in the Jewish community that takes place from sundown on Friday until sundown on Saturday, making this especially hurtful to members of the community.

The residents of that house have begun to clean and repair the damage. While the visible scars may fade away, the emotional scars will last much longer. As members of the community, we are struggling to comprehend the heinous nature of this crime, alongside our Jewish community.
Cal Poly President Armstrong

San Luis Obispo Mayor Heidi Harmon also responded to the hate crime in her weekly newsletter saying:

"The Cal Poly Alpha Epsilon Pi House was vandalized on Friday night with Swastikas and other anti-Semitic graffiti. This was a hate crime—a clear attempt to make the Jewish students of our community more fearful, more anxious, and more vulnerable. And yet another act of white supremacy in our community.

While this crime was directed at Jewish students, the damage it does isn’t limited to those whose home was attacked this Friday. There is a ripple effect and the consequences radiate outward, impacting so many within our community. So we shall respond as a community."
Mayor Heidi Harmon

The AEPi brothers say this is not the first time their fraternity house has been vandalized, but they remain positive.

"My hope is that whether this be an individual or a group who did this can see that love will always defeat hate," Leipsic said.

Another member, Amit Sharir, moved from Israel to America when he was 12-years-old and says he feels this incident can be an educational moment for the community.

"This is a moment where we can come together and learn from our mistakes and become better as a community," Sharir said.

As of Sunday morning, the fraternity says police have no leads as to who could potentially be responsible, but members are working with the San Luis Obispo Police Department.

The chapter also created a GoFundMe page to cover repairs and to go towards non-profits for antisemitism awareness.