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Racist graffiti scrawled on off-campus apartment near UCLA

February 29, 2012 12:00:00 AM PST
UCLA's students are making plans for a campus rally to address a troubling incident: racial slurs were scrawled on the front door of an off-campus student apartment. Police call it vandalism and a possible hate crime. It happened on Landfair Avenue.

Not far from UCLA, a campus that prides itself on diversity and tolerance, hateful racial slurs litter the apartment door of three students.

"We were in shock," said Juan Flores, a UCLA student who lives at the residence. "We didn't know what to think."

Flores, a third-year political science major, asked that we not show his face on camera. He says he and his roommates first noticed the anti-Mexican and sexist insults on Monday morning, and they've been uneasy ever since.

"It makes me upset just because it makes us uncomfortable now and we're a little on the edge, and we just don't know who did it," said Flores.

UCLA campus police are now investigating the incident as vandalism, and a potential hate crime, but they have few leads.

"If I were the dean of the school, I wouldn't want to tolerate that level of intolerance in my school," said UCLA graduate Yuri Sepp.

"Any racial slur is racial insensitivity directed to you is a hate crime," said David Weiss, a UCLA senior.

Student government leaders are speaking out as well, and planning to organize a town hall style on-campus rally to address the incident.

"It's truly disturbing that in this day and age with the diversity of folks that you see in Los Angeles and on the UCLA campus, that this type of thing would happen," said Adam Swart, UCLA student government chief of staff.

Flores says he's grateful for the messages of support he's received from other students, and hopes the incident, as unpleasant as the experience has been, will help address some of the lingering racism and discrimination in the world.

"Bringing it out there and making people aware that this does happen and we shouldn't really brush it under the rug, that we should report these things just to let people know that it does happen in our communities," said Flores.

UCLA released a statement Wednesday that read in part: "Speech that denigrates any group on the basis of race or gender, or sexual, religious or cultural identity is contrary to our values and has no place at UCLA."

If you have information related to the incident, contact UCLA Police at (310) 825-9371.

Note: In an earlier version of this story, the headline stated the vandalism was on the campus. This has since been corrected.