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Vandals deface UNM buildings, artwork with anti-Trump graffiti

ALBUQUERQUE, N.M. — One or more vandals defaced a combination of a dozen University of New Mexico buildings and public artwork on campus Wednesday with messages comparing President-elect Donald Trump to Nazis.

An image of some of the graffiti discovered on the University of New Mexico campus following election night. Courtesy of UNM

An image of some of the graffiti discovered on the University of New Mexico campus following election night. Courtesy of UNM

A student reported the lilac-colored graffiti to UNM early Wednesday morning, said Dianne Anderson, a university spokeswoman.

Someone defaced a popular piece of artwork, a sculpture called the Center of the Universe, with the words “Sieg Heil Trump” and a swastika symbol. In another case, a vandal wrote, “I (heart image) fascism” with the word “Trump” superimposed over the heart.

A picture of vandalism discovered at the University of New Mexico following election night. Crews are working to clean the graffiti. Courtesy of UNM

A picture of vandalism discovered at the University of New Mexico following election night. Crews are working to clean the graffiti. Courtesy of UNM

The graffiti prompted UNM President Bob Frank to publicly rebuke the act.

“There are times when emotions run high, but there are never times when it is appropriate to deface our buildings and monuments, waste university resources, or create an atmosphere of intimidation,” Frank wrote in a universitywide email. “Our beautiful campus and respectful community deserve better.”

Ortega Hall, Zimmerman Library and the College of Education building also were defaced.

Trump’s campaign has been accused by some of racism. The comparison to Nazis also was made during the election.

Willie West, a staff member who maintains the campus’ physical infrastructure, said other vulgar images were used. All the graffiti, he said, was politically addressed toward Trump.

West said between January and October staff has spent more than 650 hours cleaning up graffiti on campus for a cost of about $35,000.

Following President Barack Obama’s initial election in 2007, there was some minor graffiti, West said, but nothing on the scale of the most recent vandalism.

Jozi De Leon, head of the Division for Equity & Inclusion, said it was unfortunate to see the reaction to this year’s election. De Leon said she hopes UNM can calm things down and work “toward greater understanding and acceptance of each other and our diverse opinions.”

“Not only is the graffiti troubling, but I have also witnessed Hispanic students crying and being upset because their own status will be questioned, ethnic student meetings about their place at this university and colleagues who are feeling anguish, anxiety, anger and fear,” De Leon wrote to the Journal . “I believe that our work to create greater unity across all groups becomes ever more important.”

The UNM Police Department has asked that anyone with information about the vandalism to contact law enforcement.

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