NEW HAVEN, Conn. (WTNH) – The Yale Police Department is investigating after anti-Semitic and racist graffiti was spray-painted inside a construction site.
Chief Ronnell Higgins released a statement Wednesday reporting two graffiti incidents were found inside the construction site for Kline Biology Tower, which has been closed and inaccessible to the Yale community since construction began.
On Monday, Sept. 20, members of the construction crew noticed the graffiti spray-painted inside the building and on project materials belonging to a construction company. A criminal investigation began and the Yale PD increased security measures, installed additional security cameras, and fortified the perimeter fencing and access gates to the construction site.
Despite these measures, the vandalism happened a second time.
Officials said around 11:30 p.m. on Oct. 2, security cameras recorded several young adults who scaled the perimeter fencing and broke into the construction site. Police said the young adults vandalized indoor areas of the building and spray-painted anti-Semitic and racist language inside.
“Hearing this has been really shocking. I don’t think the news has spread around campus too much at this point,” said Lucy, a Yale student.
Anjali, another Yale student, added, “I don’t feel safe after hearing something like that on a campus like this.”
New Haven Mayor Justin Elicker released a statement Wednesday saying, “Anti-Semitism stands in sharp contrast with the values of our community. ‘Haven’, meaning a place of safety or refuge, isn’t just in our city’s name – it’s a central part of our city’s DNA. We, as a community, will always welcome individuals of every race, religion, and creed – and reject threats aimed at our friends and neighbors.”
The Connecticut Anti-Defamation League is closely following the investigation as is the Connecticut NAACP.
In a statement, Connecticut NAACP President Scot X. Esdaile called the images of the graffiti “horrific,” and said, “we are really concerned with Yale University and the construction company in charge of how they handled these racial incidents. We’ve been told this has been an ongoing problem and we want to talk with their leadership immediately.”
Meantime, Yale sent a message to its students Tuesday night. Its president and public safety chief wrote in separate posts that they are outraged and have increased campus patrols. The city says it, too, is ready to do what it can to catch up to the people in those surveillance photos.
Police are investigating both incidents, which may be related. Anyone who can identify the people in the surveillance pictures is being asked to contact Yale police at 203-432-4400.