A gallery assistant poses with a captured Nazi swastika flag, signed by original members of the SAS, listing their missions in Africa during World War II, at the National Army Museum on March 15, 2018, in London. New York City Police have launched a hate-crime investigation Thursday after swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur were spray-painted in red near the entrance to a Jewish Columbia University professor's office. (Photo by Leon Neal/Getty Images)
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New York City Police launched a hate-crime investigation Thursday after swastikas and an anti-Semitic slur were spray-painted in red near the entrance to a Jewish Columbia University professor's office.
The vandalism was found around 1 p.m.Wednesday at Columbia University’s Teachers College in Manhattan, according to published reports.
The Columbia Daily Spectator identified the teacher as Elizabeth Midlarsky, who teaches psychology and education. Midlarsky has also written about the Holocaust.
“I was in shock,” Midlarsky told the student newspaper. “I stopped for a moment, because I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.”
In addition to the swastikas, a racial slur was written on the walls.
Identification is required to enter all Teachers College academic buildings, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported. A different staff member entered the area around 11:47 a.m. Wednesday and did report seeing anything unusual.
“We are outraged and horrified by this act of aggression and use of this vile anti-Semitic symbol against a valued member of our community,” Teachers College President Thomas Bailey said in a statement.
He said police are working to “discover the perpetrator of this hateful act.”
Police also told the media they are still looking for suspects.
It's not the first time the teacher was targeted.
Midlarsky’s office was vandalized in 2007 when a swastika was spray-painted on her door and anti-Semitic fliers were left in her mailbox, the Columbia Daily Spectator reported.
Police did not say if they believe the two crimes are related, according to reports.
What else is going on?
Several anti-Semitic acts have cropped up in recent weeks.
Last week, three swastikas were found over nine days at Cornell University’s campus in Ithaca, New York, the Cornell Daily Sun reported.
Less than two weeks ago, someone spray-painted a red swastika at Duke University in North Carolina on a mural that honored victims of the Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.
Federal prosecutors have filed hate crime charges against a Pennsylvania man who allegedly stormed a Pittsburgh synagogue in October and killed 11 people. If convicted of a hate crime, the suspect could face the death penalty.
Last month, researchers who study social media reported a spike in anti-Semitic posts on Instagram and Twitter. There were also complaints that not enough was being done to stop it.
According to the FBI, hate crimes have increased more than 17 percent in the U.S. in 2017, marking the third consecutive year the figures have gone up.
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