Durham County News

Duke students react to swastika painted over mural for Pittsburgh synagogue victims

DURHAM, N.C. (WNCN) - Duke police are investigating after a red swastika was painted on the "free expression" bridge Sunday night. 

The incident promoting hate has students upset.

“Seeing three swastikas in my first three months of school have been very difficult," said Duke freshman Olivia Levine. "Last night, I'm not someone who is very emotional, but I was crying for hours.”

Levine said this is an attack on the Duke Jewish community.

“I realized crying is not going to do anything," she said. "I have to take action.”

Levine along with her friends sent Duke President Vincent Price emails, urging him to speak out.  
In a letter to the community, he calls the act “extremely distressing.”

Duke University vice-president Michael Schoenfeld agrees.

“What we all woke up this morning was a disgusting and cowardly act of vandalism that was designed to intimidate," he said.

The community quickly removed the swastika.

One thing that hurts Levine the most, is the person drew the swastika over a tribute to the 11 people who died in a Pittsburgh synagogue shooting last month, she said.

Levine helped paint the mural.

In 2017, the FBI saw an increase in hate crimes across the nation.

“It is up to us through our education and our activism and our actions and our words and our statements to present a united front that these kinds of things cannot stand should not stand," said Schoenfeld.

Levine said the goal is to spread awareness and tell people that this is not acceptable.

“All communities of every race, ethnicity, gender, need to stand up against anti-Semitism and all forms of hatred on this campus," she said.

The university told CBS 17 it will be installing security cameras in the area. 

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