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U of M calls uptick in anti-Semitism 'abhorrent and alarming'

There have been at least eight anti-Semitic incidents on campus since December.

A day after a student was arrested in connection to a swastika graffiti incident, the University of Minnesota says an anti-Semitic flier was posted on campus.

In a letter to the university community Sunday, President Eric Kaler and other university leaders said they are "profoundly disturbed by a series of ugly and frightening anti-Semitic incidents" over the past two months, noting on Friday "a vile, anti-Semetic flier was found posted" on campus.

The flier was taken down and reported to the U of M's police department.

There have been at least eight anti-Semitic incidents on campus since December, including one on Feb. 8 when a Jewish student found someone had written “Nazis rule” on his whiteboard, along with a swastika and a drawing of a concentration camp, the Bias Response and Referral Network said.

"These abhorrent and alarming acts are inconsistent with the university's fundamental values," the letter said.

But university officials note these are not isolated incidents – there's been an "upsurge in bias crimes locally and nationwide" that have targeted the Jewish community, as well as other religious, racial, immigrant and GLBTQ groups.

The U of M says it will investigate these incidents and hold the people responsible accountable. Anyone with information on the flier incident, or any other bias incident on campus, is asked to contact the university police department at 612-624-3550.

Incidents of hatred or threatening behavior can also be reported to the U of M's Bias Response and Referral Network.

Uptick in anti-Semitic incidents

There’s been an uptick in anti-Semitism and hate crimes in both the United States and the world recently, especially in the wake of the presidential election, advocacy groups have said.

One of the most recent incidents happened last month, when a string of bomb threats were made toward dozens of Jewish Community Centers in the U.S., including in Minnesota.

Hate crime statistics haven’t been released for 2016 yet, but reports from 2015 show they’ve gone up a bit. The Anti-Defamation League said anti-Semitic incidents on college campuses in the U.S. nearly doubled in 2015 – 90 incidents were reported on 60 college campuses that year, compared to the 47 incidents that happened on 43 campuses in 2014.

The FBI also tracks hate crime statistics. The agency released its 2015 stats last fall, saying hate crimes rose from 5,479 in 2014 to 5,850 in 2015. It’s worth noting, though, that hate crimes reported in 2013 were slightly higher than 2015, with 5,928 reported crimes.

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