Anti-Semitic, homophobic fliers printed around campus last weekend

Originally published on January 18, 2017 for The Daily Californian

Fliers with anti-Semitic and homophobic messages were printed to departments around UC Berkeley this past weekend.

Campus faculty and staff saw the fliers when they came back to the office this week, according to campus spokesperson Roqua Montez. Montez said the fliers were found across campus, including in the East Asian studies department.

“The UCPD was immediately called and took whatever info they could find about who could be behind this,” Montez said. “The next step was to work with the IT department to patch those vulnerabilities.”

UCPD is working with the campus’s Information Services and Technology department, or IST, to investigate how widespread the situation is, according to UCPD spokesperson Sgt. Sabrina Reich.

Montez described the fliers as “hate mail,” pointing out the swastikas that were on the fliers. Reich said there were two different fliers — one was anti-Semitic and the other was homophobic.

According to NBC Bay Area, some of the fliers said, “we take power on the 20th,” in reference to President-elect Donald Trump’s inauguration. Reich, however, did not see any references to Trump on the fliers.

Reich pointed to a similar incident that occurred in March 2016, when fliers were printed at colleges nationwide. In March, UCPD contacted the FBI and determined that the situation was not a hacking incident. Rather, an individual was printing these fliers to open-source campus printers and fax machines accessible on the internet.

Reich said UCPD thinks the same individual from the March 2016 incident is also behind the fliers printed out this weekend. While UCPD is investigating the details of the situation, it does not consider the fliers a credible threat to the safety of the campus community. Reich classified the printing of the fliers as hate speech but not as a crime.

“The messages on the fliers are obviously disturbing, but at the time there’s no credible threat to our campus,” Reich said. “There is no crime in what had been done. There’s no crime in sending a flier to a printer or fax machine that’s available on the internet.”

UCPD will continue to investigate the printing of the fliers and IST will work to inform campus departments on how to secure its printers from similar future incidents.

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