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Police patrols increased on UW-Whitewater campus after group projected swastika image on dorm


By Brammhi Balarajan and Raja Razek, CNN

(CNN) — The University of Wisconsin-Whitewater has increased police patrols on campus after a group projected an image of a swastika on a student dorm.

The incident, which happened at 5:40 p.m. on Sunday, a day before the beginning of the spring semester, comes amid what experts say is a staggering increase of antisemitic incidents across the US in the months since Hamas’ October 7 attack on Israel and the ongoing conflict in Gaza.

Police received reports of four people chanting “racist words, lighting what appeared to be road flares and displaying antisemitic symbols” outside a dorm on campus, according to a news release from the school’s chancellor Corey A. King.

A photo posted on social media shows a swastika image projected onto the side of the Knilans residence hall.

When police arrived, the group had already left the area, King said in the message.

While the chancellor said the university has “no reason to believe there is any current threat to safety on campus,” the school increased police presence out of “an abundance of caution.”

Toni Pharm, a mother who dropped her daughter off at the dorm hours before the incident, told CNN affiliate CBS 58, she called campus police after receiving an “alarming message” from her daughter.

“It’s very disturbing. I think it is a deplorable act of terrorism, in my opinion,” Pharm said. “This was too close for comfort for me.”

In the three months since the October 7 attack by Hamas, antisemitic events in the US “skyrocketed,” reaching 3,291 incidents by January 7, the Anti-Defamation League said in a news release earlier this month. That number represented roughly a 360% increase in reported antisemitic incidents compared to the same time frame a year earlier, the ADL said.

The reported incidents included more than 1,300 rallies with antisemitic rhetoric, more than 1,300 incidents of verbal or written harassment, more than 550 cases of vandalism and 56 incidents of physical assault, the ADL said. It’s unclear whether rallies were tracked last year.

Junior Brooklyn Stevenson told CNN affiliate CBS 58 said the incident worried her.

“It’s really concerning that it’s the first day back, and that’s already happened,”she told the station.

“I came here because they were one of the schools that was really high in diversity and inclusion and had a lot of different clubs and programs. So, it’s just really surprising and concerning to see that,” Stevenson said.

King noted in the message “the actions of the individuals are consistent with a group that has been visiting other campuses, and has no affiliation” with the school.

“The actions of the group last night are abhorrent and go against our core values. At UW-Whitewater, we strive to create a safe community where everyone feels a sense of belonging,” the message read. “We take pride in our Warhawk family. We reject hate in all its forms.”

King said the university is offering counseling services for those who have been impacted.

Amanda Jackson contributed to this report.

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