Hate Incident Under Investigation

The MEChA organization’s awareness display on the Price Center’s grass area was allegedly defaced last Thursday.

The display included a poster that documented how many immigrants died trying to cross the border and also included 250 crosses memorializing the dead.

Warren freshman Eleazar Loza, a member of the MEChA organization, said that he saw the vandalism on their poster.

According to Loza, the words, “”This happens because they are criminals,”” were written in black ink, and were about three inches tall.

Loza said that he is very unhappy that someone would write such a comment on the poster.

“”It is extremely offensive to the Latino community,”” Loza said.

Loza said that MEChA did not take the display down for Admit Day, even after the poster was defaced.

“”We decided to leave the display with the graffiti up for Admit Day,”” Loza said. “”But then the poster display and crosses went missing,”” Loza said.

According to UCSD police detective Nate Floyd, the case is being investigated as a hate incident.

“”If the identity of the perpetrator becomes known, the offender could face disciplinary action under the Student Code of Conduct,”” Floyd said.

Floyd said that the difference between what is considered a hate crime and a hate incident is that a hate incident is not considered a criminal offense under the law, however if the perpetrator is identified, legal consequences may arise.

According to the Student Office for Human Relations, a hate crime is an act of hostility or violence committed against a person or group or property because of their race, ethnicity, gender, age, disability, sexual orientation, religion or political beliefs. Hate incidents are things such as nonthreatening name-calling, racist leaflets and hate mail.

Floyd said that the scrawled words were noticed Thursday and then the cardboard placard and crosses were noticed missing on or before Admit Day, which began Saturday.

“”We are looking into whether the same person who defaced the poster came back and took the crosses and poster display, or whether it is a completely unrelated incident,”” Floyd said.

There are conflicting reports by several witnesses — some of whom claim to have seen one, others, two — white males taking the crosses early Saturday.

It is still unknown whether a university employee removed the display for Admit Day.

Julia Adame, the director of Student Office of Human Relations, a hate and bias prevention and education program, said the language that was written on the poster would be considered as a hate crime because it presented a clear message.

“”The defacement is a message that you are not welcome on our campus, that you are criminals and we don’t want you here,”” Adame said.

But Adame said that immigrants are necessary on our campus and to our state.

“”We do need immigrants because no one else will do the work,”” she said. “”Who is going to work in 110 degree temperature in the Central Valley? No one except the immigrants who are so desperate for any kind of work in order to support themselves and their families.””

Anthony Valladolid, director of student legal services, said the defacement of the poster cannot be viewed as anything but as a message of hate.

“”It is a provocative and malicious message,”” Valladolid said. “”It is hateful. It is criminalizing a whole class of people.””

Valladolid said he does not believe that what the vandal alluded to by the graffiti has any basis.

“”Because they came illegally into our country out of extreme need, that should result in a justifiable death sentence?”” Valladolid said. “”It is unconscionable to think that.””

Marshall junior Delia Pacheco, the high school conference chair of MEChA, said that the defacement of the poster is a symptom of a lack of diversity at UCSD.

“”I think it is a reflection of this university in terms of the energy that is not put toward diversifying our school,”” Pacheco said.

Pacheco said that she is hurt and very upset at having the poster not only defaced, but also taken down.

“”I am very angry because we put our money, time and effort into making this project to educate the campus,”” Pacheco said.

Muir junior Jessica Lopez, chair of MEChA, said that this act is only one example of continued racism and hate that exist in society.

“”Though it’s very painful to know how we are viewed, at the same time it’s easier to see that racism does exist because it’s an isolated racial incident,”” Lopez said. “”But we can’t just focus on these, because it happens every day. This hate crime will serve as a reminder that racism still goes on.””

Pacheco said that the MEChA organization would not let the hate stop them from trying to bring awareness to the campus of the current situation of immigrants.

“”We will redo the entire project,”” Pacheco said. “”We will have an entire month of Awareness rather than the two weeks we had planned.””

Anyone with any information regarding the graffiti or any hate crime is encouraged to contact UCSD police detective Nate Floyd at (858) 534-4359, or Julia Adame at the Student Office for Human Relations at (858) 534-5661.

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