Graffiti on Bates campus targets Israel, protests deaths

LEWISTON, Maine (AP) — Police have referred an investigation into graffiti on the campus of Bates College that targeted Israel and supported Palestinian rights to the state Attorney General’s Office as a possible hate crime.

A social media account affiliated with some Bates College students posted photos on Sunday showing what appeared to be chalk graffiti on the college's campus that supported Palestinian rights and targeted Israel, the Lewiston Sun Journal reported.

The Lewiston Police Department informed the attorney general's office about the slogans for a possible investigation as a hate crime, the newspaper reported.

Some of the graffiti read “Stop ethnic cleansing,” “Israel is killing innocent people,” “Free Palestine,” and “(Expletive) Zionist Israel.”

Gwen Lexow, Bates’s director of Title IX and civil rights compliance, told students in an email she had heard from people, "expressing deep concern about the impact of the language contained in the flyers and graffiti, particularly on Jewish members of our campus community.”

A caption on the social media post said the students have, “no knowledge of the circumstances by which this act occurred,” though they also said “this is not an act of antisemitism but of anti-colonialism.”

The graffiti references escalating protests, the police response and now deadly rocket fire and air strikes in Israel, Jerusalem and Gaza. The violence began last week with protests against the potential eviction of residents in a neighborhood of East Jerusalem. The police response intensified last weekend, injuring hundreds.