Unidentified pro-Palestinian protestors spray painted “LAND BACK,” “FUK USA” and “DEATH 2 [ISRAEL]” on Convocation Hall late last night, prompting Emory University President Gregory Fenves to release a statement this afternoon condemning the actions. Unknown individuals also spray painted other structures on campus, such as writing “OF GENOCIDE” under Emory University’s name on the marble sign near the Haygood Hopkins gate. It is unclear if the protestors seen spray painting Convocation Hall are also responsible for the other locations.

During the incident, several protestors on the Quad yelled that the spray painters were not students and condemned their actions. Just after midnight on April 28, Vice President of Communications and Marketing Luke Anderson told Emory Wheel reporters that the people who vandalized Convocation Hall were not part of the University community.

The Emory Police Department (EPD) is investigating the incident with the help of other law enforcement agencies, according to Fenves. This comes less than a week after unknown individuals left graffiti condemning the Atlanta Public Safety Training Center, or “Cop City,” and calling for a “free Palestine” on buildings around the Quad.

“Emory is navigating a divide between individuals who wish to express themselves peacefully and those who seek to use our campus as a platform to promote discord,” Fenves wrote. “Incidents like this — perpetrated by those who aim to disrupt and divide us — must be rejected and condemned at Emory.”

Unidentified pro-Palestinian protestors spray painted “LAND BACK,” “FUK USA” and “DEATH 2 [ISRAEL]” on Convocation Hall late last night. (Clement Lee/Managing Editor and Spencer Friedland/Managing Editor)

Emory-Israel Public Affairs Committee President Sophie Kalmin (26C) said that the graffiti was “heartbreaking.”

“All it does is just perpetuate violence and division,” Kalmin said. “My understanding is Emory students, particularly Emory students involved in ESJP, were begging the external aggressors to stop because they’re the ones that are gonna be held accountable for this. It’s just an awful, awful, awful situation.”

Emory Students for Justice in Palestine (ESJP) wrote in a statement to the Wheel that demonstrators should not engage with agitators or counter protestors and maintain civility. The statement said that protestors should respect Emory’s property and staff.

ESJP’s statement also included that the University administration’s actions in the last six months have “invited active harm” to Arab, Muslim and Palestinian communities at Emory. This comes after EPD arrested 28 protestors during a pro-Palestine encampment on the Quad on April 25. Atlanta Police Department (APD) and Georgia State Patrol officers helped EPD detain the demonstrators using tactics such as irritant gas.

“Emory’s violence against our communities is epitomized in the calling of APD on peaceful protestors on Thursday and the ensuing fabrication of the day’s events,” ESJP wrote.

Since the arrests, pro-Palestinian protestors have held continuing demonstrations on the Quad, during which they gave speeches, danced to music, shared food and planned future protests. Fenves wrote that these protests had been peaceful with the help of open expression observers until the spray painters “brazenly disrupted” them by writing the “hateful messages.”

However, Kalmin said that the protests on campus have had “explicit” and “violent” incidents of antisemitism.

“It’s very threatening to myself and other Jewish students,” Kalmin said. “It’s the scariest week I’ve ever had at Emory, without a doubt.”

Unknown individuals spray painted “OF GENOCIDE” under Emory University’s name on the marble sign near the Haygood Hopkins gate. (Sarah Davis/Senior Staff Writer)

Kalmin said she wishes Fenves’ statement condemned this antisemitism. However, she added that the police response to the protests has been “unacceptable.”

“I can’t believe that happened to students on our campus,” Kalmin said. “I wanted the encampment to come down. Personally, I think it was deeply antisemitic and I had very serious problems with the protests in itself, but it did not deserve that kind of response from the police. That was really, really horrifying to watch.”

Fenves noted that the University is continuing to investigate the situation to determine how to address the events of the past week, adding that the University community cannot allow “hatred to overwhelm the many peaceful and thoughtful voices at Emory.”

Three hours after Fenves released his statement, Senior Associate Dean for Undergraduate Education Joanne Brzinski sent an email to students announcing that Monday classes will still be held in person. All assignment deadlines, with the exception of class presentations and performances, will be extended to April 30 at 11:59 p.m. at the request of College Council, according to Brzinski.

She wrote that the Office of Undergraduate Education is not anticipating changes to the exam schedule. There are also no changes to Commencement, which is scheduled to take place on May 13.

“I hope you work with each other to respect differing viewpoints, and to help one another to finish academic work in the next couple of weeks,” Brzinski wrote.

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Sophia Peyser (25C) is an environmental science and english + creative writing major from New York City. In addition to managing the Opinion and Editorial Board sections of the Wheel, she works as an intern at Science for Georgia and a radio DJ at WMRE. In her free time, she loves thrifting in remote corners of Atlanta and drinking lavender lattes at Victory Calamity + Coffee.

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Spencer Friedland (26C) is from Long Island, New York and is the Emory Wheel's Managing News Editor. He is a Philosophy, Politics and Law major and has a secondary major in Film. Spencer is also a part of the Franklin Fellows program at Emory.