Some of the vandalism reported in Berkeley’s Southside neighborhood since last Wednesday is now being classified as a hate crime, authorities reported Wednesday evening. Sgt. Andrew Frankel, Berkeley police spokesman, said the graffiti included phrases such as “fuck white people,” and is therefore considered a hate crime. Police have now tallied more than 35 instances of vandalism, including graffiti on cars and fences, and slashed tires on vehicles, in the Southside neighborhood along Prospect Street near Hillside Avenue within a few blocks. Frankel said the total number of victims has not yet been counted, but noted that some people experienced multiple instances of vandalism on their property. He said vandalism itself is not uncommon, but the scale of the recent spate — which police believe took place overnight from June 27-28 — was notable. “It’s not uncommon to see a few in a week, but to see 30-plus in a 6- to 10-hour period, that’s significant,” Frankel said.
He said police are still working to identify victims, and that officers have continued to go out looking for additional instances in the neighborhood that have not been catalogued.
Frankel said tags are usually more likely to appear on buildings than on people’s vehicles, and said the graffiti on cars was a bit of a “new twist.”
“You can get your tires replaced relatively easily, but buffing spray paint out of your car” isn’t as easy, he said.
BPD investigators continue to work the case. No arrests have been made, but detectives believe all the instances are likely related due to geographic and temporal proximity.
Berkeleyside broke the story Monday of the extensive vandalism.
“Multiple cars, and fences were spray painted with Anarchist symbols, painting out license plates and slogans such as, F$%# white people, Class Warfare sometime during the night,” one local resident near Hillside Avenue and Prospect Street said last week on private social network Nextdoor. The messages also included “FTP,” an anti-police term. Another resident who saw the Nextdoor post brought it to Berkeleyside’s attention.
Police said Monday, in addition to the graffiti, 17 vehicles had their tires slashed.
But BPD has declined to say whether a UC Berkeley activist arrested early that morning about a block away, on suspicion of trying to hide what police described as an illegal knife when he saw officers approaching, might have any connection to the case.
Police are asking for help from the community to solve the case. Authorities have asked anyone with information or surveillance footage from June 27 or June 28 to share it with police to help identify the culprit or culprits.
BPD Sgt. Peter Hong can be reached at 510-981-5741.