VIDEO: 2 swastikas, hateful language found at San Jose State University; no criminal charges


SAN JOSE (KRON) — Two swastikas and hateful language were found at San Jose State University on Wednesday, according to college spokesperson Pat Lopes Harris.

The two students who posted the swastikas have been identified, but there will be no criminal charges against them, according to KRON4’s Dan Kerman.

One of the swastikas was found with the anti-Semitic message “Admit One Jew,” that police learned wasn’t aimed at a certain person and didn’t amount to a hate crime, university President Mary Papazian wrote Wednesday in a message to the campus community.

The other swastika and accompanying language was discovered on a white board at a dorm suite that one student referred to as a “joke board,” according to Papazian.

“First, the University Police Department (UPD) has made enough progress in its investigation that we are able to share some details. One of the two swastikas discovered Tuesday was accompanied by undeniably hateful, anti-Semitic language (“Admit One Jew”). Police have identified the student responsible and determined that this act, while bias-based, targeted no one in particular and is not by definition a hate crime,” Papazian said in a statement.

“The second incident involved a swastika and language scribbled on a white board, in a residence hall suite. The white board was described to police by the student responsible as a “joke board.” While this incident remains under investigation, police are confident that the two incidents are unrelated,” Papazian added.

While speaking to reporters outside Washburn Hall Thursday afternoon, Papazian said she was disturbed and outraged by the two incidents. She was also concerned by how students and the community were reacting to the messages.

“Anytime you have hateful language or hateful symbols it impacts somebody very personally,” she said.

The school’s president emailed the following message to faculty, staff, and students at 5 p.m. Wednesday:

“Staff members were informed Tuesday evening of two swastikas and hateful language found in Washburn Hall and Campus Village (CVC) on floors primarily housing first-year students…”

“I am both saddened and outraged by this news. Although I am in Long Beach for CSU meetings, I have spoken with campus and community leaders and shared our resolve to provide a safe learning environment where difficult issues can be addressed collaboratively and transparently.”

On Thursday, the president added:

“While mindful of the need to preserve student confidentiality, I am determined to be as transparent as possible. Let me update you on the latest developments. First, the University Police Department (UPD) has made enough progress in its investigation that we are able to share some details…Meanwhile, we are focused on continuing to engage and support open dialogue with, and among, students, faculty and staff members, and community leaders.”

You can read the full statement from the president here.

The two students behind the swastikas and attached messages were identified after officers conducted multiple interviews, university police Chief Peter Decena said.

The students who admitted they wrote the graffiti characterized the acts as a joke and police believe the incidents aren’t related, Decena said.

Papazian didn’t speak to whether the two students would be disciplined for their actions.

The university’s chief diversity officer Kathleen Wong(Lau), who joined the school in July, led a meeting Wednesday night with about 150 to 200 students, Papazian said.

An informal meeting with students on the incidents is scheduled for 8 p.m. Thursday at the university’s Dining Commons and a conversation on campus climate issues is set for Sept. 29, she said.

The graffiti comes about three years after three former students – Logan Beaschler, Joseph “Brett” Bomgardner and Colin Wyatt Warren – posted pictures of swastikas and other racist symbols at an on-campus dormitory.

The trio, all white men, lived with a black student who they called “three-fifths,” placed his head in bike lock and trapped him in a bathroom and bedroom.

The series of incidents lasted for almost two months before university police were notified.

A fourth suspect was underage at the time of the alleged crimes and charged in juvenile court, prosecutors said.

After standing trial earlier this year, the three men were convicted of misdemeanor battery.

Bomgardner was found not guilty of misdemeanor commission of a hate crime. A mistrial was declared for Beaschler and Warren on the hate crime allegation and prosecutors aren’t seeking to retry them on the charge.

The three men were sentenced to two years probation, 30 days in jail that could be completed under a weekend work program and ordered to have no contact with the victim.

Stay with KRON4 for updates on this story on-air, online, and on the KRON4 app.


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