On Oct. 28, a visitor to Bellevue College had their car defaced with anti-Semitic and white supremacist symbols. A swastika and an ‘X’ were both scratched into the car with a key. According to Public Safety, the incident has been reported to the Bellevue Police, but they currently have no leads. In his email on the incident, Jerry Webber stated that the crime was most likely premeditated because the car belonged to a Jewish individual who had only come to campus for one day.
His email continued, “Bellevue College categorically rejects anti-Semitism and hate crimes in any form. It is important for all of us to be aware and mindful of what is going on around us… I ask that you reach out to Jewish members of the campus community that you know (students, faculty or staff) to let them know they have your support and to help them to feel safe.”
An anonymous Jewish faculty member also released a statement on the attack, saying that, “What depresses me the most is that this happened to a visitor, a person who came to Bellevue College on a regular fall day, for a meeting or an activity, and came away with a rude awakening that our campus culture has done nothing to educate student and faculty about anti-Semitism, and has not taken enough steps to ensure this kind of hate crime will not happen on our grounds.”
This attack is emblematic of the upward trend of anti-Semitism and by extension, hate crimes in the Washington area. The ADL reports that anti-Semitic hate crimes in 2017-2018 have increased 108 percent across the nation and 60 percent here in Washington. According to Gilbert Villapando, the vice president of the Office of Diversity and Inclusion, this may be just the beginning. “We’ve seen a trend where [this kind of ideology has] been increasing like KKK rallies, that kind of thing, White nationalists. We’re anticipating some uptick here as well. We are not happy in any way with what’s been going on, a lot of the speech being given is hate speech.”
His office, he says, is preparing for that eventuality. They plan to put cameras in the parking lots, set up signs around the free speech zones informing students of how best to react, as well as do various other pieces of student education on how to effectively and safely counter-protest hate speech. “We know the college hasn’t had a very clear plan for how to respond, but we’re in development now so we are trying to make sure that next time there is a better response, a more timely response.”
Both Gilbert and Public Safety encouraged students to document anything they see, and report suspicious activity to Public Safety at 425-564-2400. Their office can be found at D171 and it is open from 8:00 a.m. to 5:00 p.m.
If you see or suspect someone is planning to commit a hate crime on campus, please report it to the Public Safety office.