University of Michigan regent’s law office vandalized with pro-Palestinian graffiti

Jun 3, 2024, 11:53 AM | Updated: 2:46 pm

SOUTHFIELD, Mich. (AP) — Pro-Palestinian graffiti spray-painted on the exterior of a Michigan law firm is being investigated as a hate crime, police in suburban Detroit said Monday.

University of Michigan regent and attorney Jordan Acker called the vandalism “antisemitic” and said staff at the Goodman Acker law firm’s Southfield headquarters discovered it Monday morning.

Splotches of red paint were left on the “Goodman Acker” sign above the building’s doors. “FREE PALESTINE” was spray-painted in black upon the building’s walls, while “DIVEST NOW” and “U-M KILLS” — a reference to the University of Michigan — were spray-painted in red upon at least one window and a sidewalk.

Southfield Police Chief Elvin Barren said investigators believe the graffiti was left between 1:39 and 1:46 a.m. Monday. The FBI and other agencies are assisting in the investigation.

“Make no mistake that targeting individual Jewish elected officials is antisemitism,” Acker, who is Jewish, told reporters.

“This has nothing to do with Palestine or the war in Gaza or anything else,” Acker continued. “This is done as a message to scare Jews. I was not targeted here today because I am a regent. I am a target of this because I am Jewish.”

Acker was elected to the university board in 2018 and is one of eight regents. Other board members have also been the targets of recent protests.

Protest camps have sprung up across the U.S. and in Europe in recent weeks. Students have demanded their universities stop doing business with Israel or companies they say support its war in Gaza. Organizers seek to amplify calls to end Israel’s war with Hamas, which they describe as a genocide against the Palestinians.

The Associated Press has recorded at least 85 incidents since April 18 where arrests were made at campus protests across the U.S. More than 3,110 people have been arrested on the campuses of 64 colleges and universities. The figures are based on AP reporting and statements from universities and law enforcement agencies.

On May 21, police broke up a monthlong pro-Palestinian encampment on the University of Michigan’s Ann Arbor campus. About 50 people were cleared from the school’s Diag, known for decades as a site for campus protests. At least four were arrested.

A group of 30 protesters showed up May 15 at the home of Board of Regents Chair Sarah Hubbard and placed stuffed, red-stained sheets on her lawn to resemble body bags. They banged a drum and chanted slogans over a bullhorn.

People wearing face coverings also posted demands at the doors of other board members.

Protesters have demanded that the school’s endowment stop investing in companies with ties to Israel. But the university insists it has no direct investments and less than $15 million placed with funds that might include companies in Israel. That’s less than 0.1% of the total endowment.

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University of Michigan regent’s law office vandalized with pro-Palestinian graffiti