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Swastikas spray-painted at Columbia University professor's office

The NYPD has launched a hate crime investigation after swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur were discovered at the office of a Columbia University professor.
The Columbia University office of Jewish professor Elizabeth Midlarsky was vandalized with swastikas on Nov. 28, 2018.
The Columbia University office of professor Elizabeth Midlarsky was vandalized this week.Rya Inman / Columbia Daily Spectator

The New York City Police said Thursday that it has opened a hate-crimes investigation after swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur were found spray-painted in red on the office walls of a Columbia University professor who is Jewish and has written about the Holocaust.

The NYPD said the vandalism was discovered Wednesday at Columbia University’s Teachers College in Manhattan.

The Columbia Daily Spectator, the student newspaper, identified the professor as Elizabeth Midlarsky, who teaches psychology and education.

“I was in shock,” Midlarsky told the newspaper. “I stopped for a moment, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”

Teachers College President Thomas Bailey said in a statement Wednesday, “We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community."

Bailey said the college was working with police to “discover the perpetrator of this hateful act.” The NYPD said it had no suspects.

The Columbia Daily Spectator said Midlarsky’s office had been vandalized in 2007 when a swastika was spray-painted on her door and anti-Semitic fliers were left in her mailbox.

The NYPD declined to comment on whether they believed the two crimes were related.

The incident comes less than two weeks after someone at Duke University in North Carolina spray-painted a red swastika on a mural honoring the victims of last month's Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

And last week, the Cornell Daily Sun reported that three swastikas were found over nine days at Cornell University's campus in Ithaca, New York.

The FBI reported this month that hate crime had risen more than a 17 percent across America in 2017 — the third consecutive year the numbers have increased.

And last month researchers who study social media said they had seen an increase in anti-Semitic posts on Instagram and Twitter before the midterm elections.