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Anti-fascist graffiti on Rutgers Student Center shines new light on swastika investigation

Yesterday, a student came forward with a series of 10 timestamped photos, showing clusters of anti-fascist graffiti behind the Rutgers Student Center. The new images were taken on Sunday — around the same time that police arrived to investigate a similar swastika on the exterior of Stonier Hall. – Photo by Courtesy of Allison Yaffee

On Sunday morning, police responded to reports of a large swastika spray painted on the exterior wall of Stonier Hall.

The drawing faced out toward one of the most highly trafficked areas on College Avenue and featured a black swastika enclosed by the international probation sign — a red circle with a diagonal line through it. Authorities arrived at the residence hall around 10 a.m, according to University spokesperson Neal Buccino, and University officials have since removed the graffiti. 

The Tab Rutgers reported, with no attribution, that the swastika first appeared on its own, with the red paint added retrospectively to cross it out. 

But yesterday, Allison Yaffee, a School of Arts and Sciences sophomore, sent a series of timestamped photos to The Daily Targum that she said pose a contradiction to this narrative. Her photos, taken on the same day behind the Rutgers Student Center, depict at least 10 more graffiti drawings — all with anti-fascist symbols and phrases.  

The newly discovered graffiti features another crossed out swastika with the same coloring as the first and phrases like “f*ck nazi scum,” “f*ck white nationalists” and “f*ck fascism” that vary between black and red paint. 

Yaffee did not file a police report by press time and the Rutgers University Police Department (RUPD) did not confirm an active investigation into these particular images.  

Alongside these photos, Yaffee also shared her own testament, which correlated with the timing of the pictures and RUPD's arrival at Stonier. She said she first discovered the additional graffiti behind the student center around 6 a.m. on Oct. 29. 

“Early Sunday morning I was walking behind the student center when some red and black writing immediately caught my attention,” she said to The Daily Targum. “The graffiti was expressing anti-fascist sentiments, saying things like 'Nazi punks F**K OFF’ and ‘f**k Nazi scum.' Among the graffiti, a big black swastika, circumscribed in a red circle with a slash through it, stood out. I didn't know it at the time, but a similar incident had occurred outside of Stonier Hall. It was too dark when I first found the graffiti to take pictures, so later that day I went back to the scene to document what I found.”

Because of the second drawing’s remote location and proximity to the anti-fascist phrases, Yaffee said she found the timeframe of the original story unlikely. 

For clarity, she reached out to the journalist behind The Tab’s coverage, Amber Atabansi, to ask how the publication found out that the red circle was drawn separately.

Atabansi responded on Twitter, writing “One of my friends who saw it said when he first saw it, it didn’t have one around it and it was raining, so he didn’t stay to take pictures.”

“It seemed improbable to me that on two separate occasions, someone drew a swastika only for another person to come along and paint a red circle with a slash through it, especially considering how obscure the location of the one that I found is," Yaffee said.

If Atabansi’s source had indeed discovered the swastika earlier that morning with no circle, Yaffee said the red spray paint would have been added in a highly visible part of campus during a downpour. 

“That would also mean that it was raining while someone spray painted the circle on. I imagine that if that was the case, then the spray would not have sprayed on so cleanly because the spray would have to travel through the air while it is raining and onto the wall. I imagine that this would make the paint more runny, but the picture on the article has clean lines,” she said.

The RUPD is actively investigating the graffiti at Stonier, according to the University. 

“The University is removing the image," Buccino said. “Such symbols are antithetical to the values of the University, where we strive to create an atmosphere free from bias and to treat people of all backgrounds with dignity and respect.”

At this time, the University has not issued any further statement. 

“I am suspicious of this whole situation," Yaffee said. "I strongly stand against fascism, but I think there are better ways to speak out against it than vandalizing our school.”

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