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Milton police investigating swastika graffiti at Curry College

The Curry College logo.FRANK O'BRIEN/GLOBE STAFF FILE

Curry College officials held meetings with concerned students Tuesday as police investigated a rash of hate speech and antisemitic graffiti discovered on the Milton campus in recent days, the college said.

Milton Police Deputy Chief James O’Neil confirmed that the department is probing five separate cases of vandalism on the campus, the latest example of hate speech against Jews found at local colleges across Massachusetts.

The first case was reported on Thursday, when the world commemorated International Holocaust Remembrance Day. A laundry room in a Curry College residence hall was defaced with swastikas and “discriminatory and hateful language,” college officials said in a statement.

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The college said it received additional reports between Friday and Sunday of “incidents in four other residential and public spaces around campus.”

O’Neil said police are planning a thorough investigation.

“It could be an individual; it could be a group that had done it. ... We haven’t ruled anything in or out,” O’Neil said in a phone interview. “The investigation is ongoing.”

Aside from the swastika, the nature of the other graffiti was not disclosed.

In a statement, college officials expressed support for students targeted by the offensive speech.

“Our support and care go out to everyone in our community, but particularly to our fellow Jewish and Black community members affected by this act,” Curry College officials said in a statement. “The College has both clear policies against hostile or hateful speech and a full commitment to creating a safe, welcoming, and diverse campus. These acts are contrary to all that Curry, its students, and faculty and staff stand for, and will not be tolerated.

“While we believe these incidents are not reflective of the overall respectful, intelligent, inclusive, and diverse environment at Curry College, we are addressing it with the utmost seriousness and care for any individuals directly affected and the impact on our entire community,” the statement read.

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On Tuesday, Curry President Kenneth Quigley and other senior college leadership held listening sessions in the college’s Diversity Center, according to Liz Matson, a spokeswoman for the college.

“The sessions were open to everyone in the Curry community who wanted to stop by and share their thoughts and concerns,” Matson said in an e-mail.

Milton police notified the Anti-Defamation League about the series of disturbing incidents.

“We are aware of a series of antisemitic incidents involving swastikas at Curry College and have been in touch with the school and Milton Police who are actively investigating the incidents,” Robert Trestan, the regional director of the Anti-Defamation League of New England, said in a statement. “It is especially disheartening to see this so soon after the recent commemoration of International Holocaust Remembrance Day on Jan 27.”

The discovery of the graffiti at Curry comes after similar cases of antisemitic vandalism have been reported at Massachusetts schools and colleges in recent years.

Last fall, officials at Mount Holyoke College investigated three instances of antisemitic vandalism in a dorm building, where swastikas and ethnic slurs were scrawled in black marker in a bathroom.

In Danvers, school officials and the town’s police department were investigating after a swastika was found in a bathroom at the Holten-Richmond Middle School. It was the second time in two weeks that the Nazi symbol was discovered in a school bathroom.

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In June, a student at Lincoln Sudbury Regional High School found a swastika carved into the back of a seat inside the building.

Four swastikas were drawn in the stairwells of an Emerson College dormitory two years ago, just a couple of months before the COVID-19 pandemic set in and forced colleges to send many students home. And in October 2019, multiple swastikas were found on the walls of academic buildings at Smith College in Northampton.

Curry College and Milton police also had investigated a case in February 2019 where threatening graffiti was found inside an academic building restroom.

“Curry College is not unique in dealing with hate incidents as this has sadly become part of a troubling statewide trend,” Trestan said. “We encourage the administration to work with student groups to ensure safety and security for all members of the campus community.”

Anyone with information about the offensive graffiti can contact Milton police at 617-698-3800 or Curry College’s department of public safety at 617-333-2232.


Emily Sweeney can be reached at emily.sweeney@globe.com. Follow her on Twitter @emilysweeney and on Instagram @emilysweeney22.