Members of the University of Minnesota's Muslim Student Association found their public bridge painting defaced this week – scrawled over with the phrase "ISIS."
The Muslim Students Association said it happened early Thursday on the Washington Avenue bridge – a high-traffic area where student groups early in the year get to paint panels. (It's the same bridge where someone vandalized a "Trump Pence" and "Build the Wall" sign this year.)
"The Muslim community is already in a fragile place, and needs this hate speech to be acknowledged and dealt with in a proper and timely manner," the group said. Here's the vandalized panel:
They asked the incident to be "fully investigated" and requested the University of Minnesota take a solid stance against that type of rhetoric.
University of Minnesota police put out surveillance photos of a possible suspect Friday morning.
The shots were taken at 3:45 a.m. Police ask anyone with information to call (612) 624-COPS, or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Students for Justice in Palestine separately targeted
The vandalized panel is the second anti-Muslim incident being addressed this week.
Posters recently put up around the University of Minnesota campus claim the Students for Justice in Palestine group is affiliated with the Hamas terror group – like the one in the tweet above, but with the college name swapped. They were put up by an American-Israeli group, which has targeted other universities with anti-Islamic rhetoric as well, Alpha News reported.
Students for Justice in Palestine said the posters are misleading, confuse being Muslim with supporting Palestine, and wrongly portray them as "violent, anti-semitic terrorists" based on "Islamophobic stereotypes."
The university's response
A U of M official – Danita Brown Young, vice provost for student affairs and dean of students – wrote a letter to Students for Justice in Palestine, saying in part: "I am sorry for the hurt and fear this has caused you and the members of your group."
Young called the fliers "repulsive," adding she's "saddened, maddened and heartbroken by this continued hateful rhetoric that disproportionately affects our marginalized students and community."
President Eric Kaler, along with a few other U of M leaders, addressed both that incident and the "ISIS" spray-painting.
"We condemn these incidents. They are abhorrent actions that will not be tolerated on our campus," the statement reads.
Kaler said leaders met with affected students, and the bridge panel was painted over.
Muslims: One of the most negatively viewed religious groups
According to PEW Research Center there are about 3.3 million Muslims living in the US, a number that is likely to double by 2050.
A study from the center found Muslims are one of the most negatively viewed religious groups in the U.S.
Over the weekend, a Saudi Arabia native was beaten to death outside a pizza place in Menominie, Wisconsin. Hussain Saeed Alnahdi was 24 years old, and a student at University of Wisconsin Stout. Groups are offering thousands of dollars in rewards to find the killer.
Mosques have been targeted in Minnesota repeatedly. The Mankato Islamic Center's sign was vandalized in September. In February of this year, a vandal caused $5,000 of damage to the Umatul Islam Center in Minneapolis after breaking in, while there were a spate of vandal attacks on Islamic faith centers in St. Cloud towards the end of 2014.