a water tower that says UC Davis in blue writing
(Photo/Flickr-UC Davis Arboretum & Public Garden CC BY-SA 2.0)

Antisemitic banners hung near UC Davis by white supremacist fight club

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Antisemitic banners were hung on a highway that passes through UC Davis on Aug. 28 by “four white men” dressed in black, the university reported.

A statement from the chancellor of UC Davis, Gary May, said the incident was being investigated as a “hate incident of concern” by the campus police. A similar activity had been reported the week before, the statement said.

Pictures posted on local news and social media showed two banners reading “Communism is Jewish” and “The Holocaust is an Anti-White Lie.” In smaller letters, the banners were credited to “the memorial active club.” “Active clubs” are, according to the Anti-Defamation League, a loosely affiliated network of white supremacist fight clubs.

The four alleged perpetrators, wearing black clothing and masks, hung the banners on a bike overpass over Highway 113, which runs between two areas of campus.

“Campus police responded to the scene and determined this was a hate incident,” said university spokesman Andy Fell.

He added that police had determined it was most likely not a hate crime. The hanging of banners falls under the California attorney general’s definition of hate material displayed in public places that “does not result in property damage,” which was the case here and therefore not a criminal offense.

“Obviously,” Fell added, “this is very hateful content.”

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Asked about a report in the Davis Enterprise newspaper that at least one of the perpetrators was a student, Fell said he could not confirm that.

“The police have not identified any of the people involved,” he said.

Rabbi Jeremy Simons, who shares the pulpit at Congregation Bet Haverim in Davis with his wife, Rabbi Bess Wohlner, said he heard about the incident after a photo was posted on Facebook. He said they immediately tried to take action.

“We drove on down to 113 with a stepladder and some scissors,” he said, adding that at the time he didn’t know the alleged perpetrators had initially stayed on the scene and confronted counterprotesters, as reported in local news.

By the time they reached the spot, the banners were no longer up, but Wohlner said it left their community shaken.

“To see such a public display of hatred is horrific,” she said.

Fell added that anyone with information should contact the school via its online portal to report hate and bias incidents, or UC Davis police, which could be done confidentially.

“We take the safety of our campus very seriously,” he said.