Graffiti of hate: anti-Semitic symbols and slogans found in Mercer bathrooms

Written by: Tricia Bitetto

Anti-Semitic graffiti has been found in the men’s bathrooms in three buildings on campus. Someone wrote the phrase “What about the good things Hitler did?” in a stall in the men’s bathroom in the front entrance of the FA building. Other messages found include swastikas, Satanic Pentagrams, and Nazi salutes. The style of handwriting and scratch marks varied case by case.

Earlier this semester, longtime art professor Mel Leipzig filed a formal complaint to Bryon Marshall, Director of Campus Safety, regarding two messages he found in the first floor bathroom of the ET building. “I never saw anything like it,” said Leipzig. He went on to note “that [Mercer has a] great mix of people,” saying that he has “never been aware of racism on campus.”

Without being explicit, Leipzig described the messages as being similar to a limerick poem but in the form of question, making a comparison between a “Jew” and something else, to create a grotesque image. Upon finding the message, he erased it, but when he returned to the same location later that day, a second similar message had been written with the same style and lettering.

Marshall, whose office is currently in the Student Center, acknowledged that there are incidents of bathroom graffiti in general on campus.  He says that they are “done randomly” and are “not a major concern.”

When asked specifically about anti-Semitic graffiti, he said that such instances were even rarer and more sporadic. He notes, however, that all graffiti is taken very seriously and goes through a removal kit where the message is analyzed before it is removed. Steps in the kit involve the initial report which is then looked at by a Security official and then the Police Academy is notified and partakes in further scrutiny of the message. Marshall said that Mercer’s Security Office also works with the Mercer County Sheriff’s Department and their Gang Unit, if the situation calls for it.

The ET Building is home to the Police Academy, Arts and Communications offices, and engineering classes among others. Upon investigation by the Voice, as of February 27, the first floor bathroom had very little graffiti in it, but a message was found that fit the description of Mr. Leipzig’s complaint. The bathroom above it, on the second floor, had much more graffiti.

The second floor men’s bathroom in the LA building was a third location with notable instances of anti-Semitic graffiti. It also had a number of ethnic and racial slurs. Specifically, the Voice found a series of three Swastikas above one of the urinals.

The particular piece of graffiti, “what about the good things Hitler did,” may be traced to a website.  The same slogan is featured on a shirt from an online distributor called T-shirt Hell.  The shirt in question is part of the website’s ‘worse than hell’ line and features the slogan under a picture of Hitler wielding a bouquet of flowers.  The website markets shirts that feature crude, derogatory, and politically-incorrect slogans.

Stephanie Towers, a Business Administration major, expressed her feelings about the anti-Semitic graffiti succinctly by saying, “…They leave their message where it belongs: in the toilet.”

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