News

Student's car vandalized with anti-Semitic epithet

Palo Alto police investigating hate crime

A Gunn High School student's car was keyed with an anti-Semitic epithet on May 17, Palo Alto police said Thursday.

The student had parked his car in the 600 block of Georgia Avenue between Abel and Amaranta avenues in a residential neighborhood near the school. Students often park in the neighborhood, police Sgt. Rich Bullerjahn said.

The victim returned at 2:45 p.m. to find the hood of the vehicle scratched with the words "F--- you Jew." The crime occurred between 8 a.m. and 1 p.m., Bullerjahn said.

Investigators looked into any possible connections at the school. The victim is Jewish, but he has never been the victim of any hate crime in the past, Bullerjahn said. There were no witnesses.

California law calls for stiff punishment for anyone convicted of a hate crime. Persons who are found guilty face up to one year in county jail, or a fine up to $5,000, or both plus community service up to 400 hours.

Other statutes, including causing property damage of more than $400, carry state prison terms and a fine of up to $10,000. Persons convicted of a felony under these statutes can face additional state prison terms up to three years.

Comments

Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2012 at 12:20 pm

> California law calls for stiff punishment for anyone convicted of a
> hate crime. Persons who are found guilty face up to one year in
> county jail, or a fine up to $5,000, or both plus community
> service up to 400 hours.

This crime is totally unacceptable and if the perpetrator is caught I
would want to see him punished and punished decisively, but a
possible year in jail and $5,000 is quite a bit.

Is there some kind of distinction between someone being a major
miscreant, a whopping jerk ass and a hate crime? The idea of
punishing someone for terrorizing a person with vandalism is a
great one, important, but this is an awfully open and fuzzy
punishment. At least it seems like it to this non-lawyer.

I wondering how they determine this and is it supposed to be
push people to choose their terrorizing insults more carefully?

If the perpetrator was anti-Semitic but had left out the last word of
his epithet, would that somehow have been less hateful? Of if the
perpetrator was not anti-Semitic at all but just wanted to really
terrorize the victim by using a term he knew would have an effect
- that seems hateful.

It's very complex, why not just slam all people who do stuff like
this hard and decisively and let the interpretation of how much hate
there is in an act

How is hate measured in a legal sense I guess is my question. My
perception is that the law often gets in trouble and leaves loopholes
for special interests when it require an institution to try to judge
the intentions of individuals. This does not seem to even be possible.


Posted by GunnAlum, a resident of Barron Park
on May 25, 2012 at 2:39 pm

When I was at Gunn years ago, another student stood next to me near the lockers and said 'dirty Jew" in a very insulting manner. I am a Jew and it was shocking to me to hear this from a classmate who lived in Stanford campus and whose parents were educated faculty. I still remember it after numerous years.


Posted by Sue Dremann, Palo Alto Weekly staff writer
on May 25, 2012 at 2:42 pm

Sue Dremann is a registered user.

Hi Anon.

The law seems to leave judges discretion regarding the fine and/or incarceration. You can find it in the California Penal Codes as Section 422.6 and 422.7


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 25, 2012 at 8:21 pm

Editor - Can you please explain now why my inquiry regarding this issue last Friday was removed? Why my follow up from Saturday morning - asking why my inquiry was removed was locked very fast? locked thread can still be found under schools/kids, original inquiry gone.


Posted by Anon., a resident of Crescent Park
on May 25, 2012 at 9:31 pm

Thank you Sue Dremann. I find the judge's discretion scary. This is an interesting subject. The kind of thing you want there to be a law for but it seems hard to understand and can be exercised inconsistantly or even capriciously when the media is involved.

Several new neuroscience and brain books talk about how judged are statistically predictable in how they err in sentencing depending on how hungry or tired they are. I heard someone talking about applying laws by computer and how it would be more consistant and fair outcomes given the human failings of real judges. I wish I could remember where the talk on that was to post it. It was a fascination idea I had never thought about.


Posted by In the Know, a resident of Another Palo Alto neighborhood
on May 26, 2012 at 7:19 am

Recently several middle school students at my child's private school had anti semantic taunts directed at them at Piazzas where they will go to Friday afternoons. These remarks were directed at them by a small number of students from JLS. The students were identified and JSL dealt with the issue. Also, the ADL has come to our school to help our students deal with anti antisemitism. My gut tells me that this is an isolated incident that while incendiary may not really be about antisemitism, but on the other hand, it is troublesome, especially in light of this incident at Gunn.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 26, 2012 at 12:32 pm

Editor - I'm asking, again, about why my posting on this same issue a week ago was removed, and my follow up posting was locked? I'm hoping you'll not simply remove this one.

The reason I am being persistent about this is that my child watched my question removed and then saw the issue being ignored for a week. This has everything to do with an atmosphere where kids feel disconnected - by the time they get to high school they know very well what type of questions are not to be asked. They know what issues are "inconvenient" for adults to face or to deal with; what type of questions/inquiries will make them (kids) look "dumb" on one hand, or are just not welcome emotionally, on the other hand.

Given the pressure in this district, isn't being able to openly discuss serious issues fundamental to our kids' emotional well-being? This incident is a fine example.

Please? Can you please explain why my inquiry was removed and my follow-up inquiry was locked?

Thank you.


Posted by Bill Johnson, publisher of the Palo Alto Weekly
on May 26, 2012 at 1:17 pm

Bill Johnson is a registered user.

Village Fool,

Your original post was removed by the Palo Alto Online moderator at that time because we wanted to confirm the incident with authorities before allowing an anonymous account of such an act of vandalism and potential "hate" speech to appear. Posts like this are generally removed unless we know it to contain accurate facts or verify it. We appreciate the news tip and am sorry that your attempt to get the word out was delayed while we looked into it and were able to report further details. Our goal was not to hide the incident, just make sure accurate information was conveyed to the community.


Posted by Cameron, a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2012 at 1:57 pm

"Goyim" was a common insult by Jews to non-Jews, at Stanford, when I went there. It didn't bother me any more than "Gringo" by the Latinos. Or "Honkies" by the Blacks. However, it did make me think that they are no better than most others, in terms of their own bigotry.

I, personally, think it would be more healthy to get rid of PC, and let various people express their own bigotry, because we could then have an honest discussion.


Posted by Semite, a resident of Crescent Park
on May 26, 2012 at 2:25 pm

Goyim is not an insult. It means "peoples" and is used to refer to non-Jews, but calling someone a goy is no more offensive than calling someone a Jew. (I am Jewish and refer to my husband as a goy. Doesn't bother him or anyone else as far as I can tell.)

I understand that people who have never personally experienced discrimination or been the subject of bigoted slurs may find it amusing to try to pretend that they are among the victims, but pretending does not make it so. WASPs remain a privileged segment of our society.


Posted by Cameron, a resident of Midtown
on May 26, 2012 at 2:41 pm

Goyim: "Used as a disparaging term for one who is not a Jew." And as it was clearly understood, when I was at Stanford.

From the Free Web Dictionary.

Semite, you need to open up to reality. Don't be so defensive...Jews are as bigotted as any other peoples. Once you accept that fact, we can begin to have an honest conversation.


Posted by RussianMom, a resident of Old Palo Alto
on May 26, 2012 at 3:04 pm

Cameron, what honest conversation exactly are you referring too???


Posted by Hmmm, a resident of East Palo Alto
on May 26, 2012 at 5:43 pm

Hmmm is a registered user.

"Honest discussion" has nothing in common w/a hate crime that is also vandalism. I'm sure that many of us have been unfairly targeted & insulted based on our gender, ethnicity or religious affiliation for starters.

I'm glad that Village Fool brought this to The Weekly's attention & I appreciate The Weekly for following up.

I don't know why Palo Alto has had a pattern of anti-Semitic crime such as this one through the years. It's disturbing and nasty. I'm very sorry for the young person who found their car like this, and sorry that the rest of their family has to deal w/it.


Posted by village fool, a resident of another community
on May 27, 2012 at 9:59 pm

village fool is a registered user.

Editor - Thank you for responding and clarifying.
Would it make sense to post this article/thread also under Schools/kids? I'm asking since this issue seems to me to be related to well being of all students.

Hmmm-It was very important for me to have this issue open. I mentioned in my initial posting and in the follow up that I learned of this incident from my (Jewish) child. Hoping an "honest discussion" will take place, somewhere, somehow.

I'm sorry to say that my observations are that many kids and adults face discrimination and patronizing behavior in Palo Alto.
It may seem absurd - I'm more concerned about the subtle discrimination and patronizing. The student whose car was keyed and vandalized is empowered - has ways to address this hate crime. I am of course in no way trying to understate the severity of this incident.
These venues, even the knowledge that this crime has to be addressed, are result of many years of hate crimes and discrimination. These venues are also result of a fundamental belief that education is the way out/up, that asking/questioning authorities is OK.

I did not know of the incident described above, involving JLS students. We would not know more, or even if it is correct if nobody will look into this.
I'm sorry to say that I'm not surprised to learn about these antisemitic incidents. I wonder if there were more? It may be an opening for some "honest discussion".


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