Comic Books, Monuments, Historic Buildings Targeted by Pro-Palestinian Protesters

Portland State University library
by Micaiah Bilger


A valuable comic book collection, statues of the founding fathers, and historic buildings where great minds like Albert Einstein have taught – all reportedly have been targets of anti-Israel protesters in recent weeks.

Some have caused massive damage. Images show graffiti and debris covering campuses like the University of California at Los Angeles, California State Polytechnic University at Humboldt, and Portland State University (pictured) – attracting national news attention and public shock.

But culturally significant objects – including statues of George Washington and Benjamin Franklin – also have been targeted.

Historian Mary Grabar told The College Fix she does not believe this is a coincidence.

“Attacks on them are intended to stir up deeply felt emotions of anger by those who love this country,” Grabar said in an email Wednesday. “Israel is serving as a proxy for the evil colonialist Western empires students have been taught to believe are the cause of the world’s ills.”

At George Washington University on April 30, protesters scrawled the words “genocidal” and “warmongering” in spray-paint across the statue of the school’s namesake, according to news and social media images.

A pro-Palestinian flag was placed in the statue’s hand and stickers reading “Free Palestine” and other phrases covered the legs and base. The university did not respond to two emails asking for an estimated cost to clean up the vandalism.

Just a few days earlier, the University of Pennsylvania’s statue of Benjamin Franklin also was vandalized, the words “Zios get fuckt” spray painted across it, according to The Daily Pennsylvanian. One photo also shows a Palestinian flag draped across its shoulders.

A university spokesperson told The Fix in a Wednesday email they did not have an estimate for the damage but would check. They did not respond to a follow up email.

Meanwhile, a Portland State University spokesperson told The Fix they are still assessing the full damages caused by protesters who took over the library building before police removed them May 2.

According to reports from OregonLive and others, rare archived materials possibly were stolen during the protesters’ occupation, including a Dark Horse Comics collection. A photo by OregonLive shows the glass smashed on a poster advertising the collection.

However, spokesperson Katy Swordfisk told The Fix in an email the university cannot confirm the alleged theft.

“We’re still working to determine what, if any, materials are missing as work to document the extent of the damage continues. At this moment, we can’t confirm if any archived materials have been stolen,” Swordfisk said.

Photos and videos show massive damage to the interior of the library, including the words “Blood on your hands” written in red paint across a shelf full of books.

Elsewhere, other damage caused by pro-Palestinian protesters included the historic Royce Hall at UCLA. Built in 1929 and one of the first structures on campus, the facility has welcomed great minds such as Albert Einstein and entertainers like Frank Sinatra, Leonard Bernstein, and Ella Fitzgerald, university website states.

The hall’s carved arch doorways, brick walls, and wooden doors were covered with “Free Gaza” graffiti April 30, according to NBC Los Angeles.

Another report by ABC 7 on May 2 showed even more graffiti covering its columns and walls, hours after police cleared the protesters’ encampment.

UCLA’s media office did not respond to two emails in the past week asking for an estimated cost of the damage.

Other significant targets have included a World War I memorial in New York City during a march from Hunter College to the Met Gala and American flags at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill and Yale University.

The one torn down from Yale’s Beinecke Plaza is being replaced at a roughly estimated cost of $10,000, according to the Yale Daily News.

Grabar told The Fix these incidents remind her of the destruction that occurred during the 2020 George Floyd riots. She linked both to the “1619 Project,” a New York Times series that argued America was founded on slavery, not freedom and independence. Many historians, including Grabar, say the conclusion of the series is not based in fact.

“The 1619 Project false history of slavery was extended to the false narrative about the present situation when George Floyd was touted as a victim of rampant racism and anti-black police violence — holdovers from slavery,” she told The Fix. “I’m afraid that the 2020 riots established a precedent of widespread attacks on cherished American figures and institutions, and even books.”

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Micaiah Bilger – Assistant Editor, The College Fix.
Photo “Portland State University Library” by Andy Ngô.



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