Thirty instances of vandalism — including slashed vehicle tires and spray-painted messages — were reported on the south side of campus June 28, according to a BPD statement released on July 3.
The spray-painted graffiti messages targeted demographics such as “white people,” “cops” and “liberal scum,” according to City Councilmember Kriss Worthington.
“There’s a lot of hate for a lot of groups … and it’s very upsetting that people can be that offensive,” Worthington said. “It’s disgusting and reprehensible.”
In total, 17 cars had tires slashed, according to the press release by the police department. Thirteen victims reported “tagging” — or spray-painted vandalism — to the police department on June 28, and additional graffiti messages could be found on signs and walls along other streets south of campus.
According to BPD spokesperson Sgt. Andrew Frankel, the graffiti messages constitute a hate crime, as reported by Berkeleyside.
Although accounts of vandalism have not increased in the Berkeley community, Worthington said, this recent string of vandalism attacks is unusual for its targeted demographic.
Historically, vandalism in Berkeley has targeted the African-American, LGBTQ+ and Jewish communities, Worthington alleged.
“For many years, there (have) been some people who say ‘F the police,’ ” Worthington said. “But I think going the step of saying ‘kill cops’ is just taking it way too far.”
In the past, the city of Berkeley has had a “mixed record” at identifying the culprits of vandalism, according to Worthington. He said the city has held vigils and rallies to show “public support for people who were victims” of hateful vandalism.
Concerning the latest string of vandalism, Worthington added that he and other city council members have contacted BPD to express their disgust and condemnation of the spray-painted messages.
Worthington notes the irony of the most recent vandalism, as the messages primarily targeted “white people” and “cops,” yet the vandalism victims themselves might not have belonged to either of those groups.
“The part of Berkeley around campus is very racially mixed and I don’t think there is a majority ethnic group in the campus area,” Worthington said. “It’s ironic (the perpetrator) could be doing this to people of color’s cars.”
Worthington and BPD are asking community members for information or video camera footage to aid in identifying the vandalism perpetrator or perpetrators.
“We’re putting out a notice to people in that area, and we want people to file claims for the cost of the damage,” Worthington said. “We want them to save their receipts and work with us to try to get the person or people who did it.”
BPD could not be reached for comment as of press time.