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Davis police search for vandal accused of cutting down multiple Israeli flags, pursue hate crime charges

Suspect accused of cutting down Israeli flags sought by police in Davis
Suspect accused of cutting down Israeli flags sought by police in Davis 03:14

DAVIS -- The Davis Police Department opened a hate crime investigation as they search for a suspect believed to have vandalized two Israeli flags at homes in east Davis. 

One of the incidents was captured on a home surveillance video that was then provided to police. 

The video shows the person, who appears to be a young man, walking up to the front door of a home and using a knife to cut down the Israeli flag. 


The video, posted online by police, cuts off as the flag is being slashed. Police say the suspect took the remnants of the flag and left the property. 

Police say both incidents happened on Friday, April 12 around midnight near Chestnut Park on L Street and Claremont Drive.

"It's our goal to provide a community, a safe place for all faith, backgrounds, you name it. When someone is victimized like this, there is a lot of fear that comes with that," said Lt. Dan Beckwith of the Davis Police Department.

Beckwith said both victims reported the incidents to police, feeling they were targeted due to their Jewish faith. 

Some Jewish community members say this does not surprise them as tensions on both sides of the Israel-Hamas War escalate. 

"It was really an attack on that person and their right to hold their belief," said Jason Weiner, chair of the Jewish Community Relations Council of the Sacramento region. 

Weiner applauded and thanked the Davis Police Department for quickly taking the incidents seriously. 

"It might seem like a minor thing, but this is something that is really dangerous and invasive that could lead, you know, imagine if she had walked out of her home at that time. Imagine how that homeowner feels now having been invaded like that and targeted like that," said Weiner. 

Tensions both in the Middle East and here on California are on the rise.

Pro-Palestinian protestors shut down interstate travel for hours Monday in the Bay Area, sparking multiple arrests. 

Over the weekend, the Israel-Hamas war intensified as Iran fired missiles and drones in a retaliatory attack on Israel. Most were intercepted by American and IDF forces. 

Weiner said many in the local Jewish community fear antisemitism is on the rise. 

"What would you advise the Jewish community to do? Is it that you stop displaying these symbols to prevent any type of retaliation?" CBS13 reporter Ashley Sharp asked. 

"I wouldn't advise that. We hear this question a lot. People are feeling very scared across our region," said Weiner. "I think we have to continue living our lives as much as possible but do so in a way that keeps us safe." 

For context, this vandalism comes on the heels of a civil rights complaint being filed against UC Davis earlier this month regarding allegations of antisemitism in the classroom and across campus. 

Some Jewish students told CBS13 then that they did not feel safe at UC Davis. 

Now about two weeks later, multiple homeowners just 10 minutes from the campus are reporting to Davis police that these targeted attacks have made them feel unsafe in their own homes. 

"We take matters of hate crime very seriously, victims of all hate crime. We are looking into this diligently," said Beckwith.      

Davis police are asking anyone who recognizes the person captured on camera vandalizing the Israeli flags to come forward so they can identify him. 

They also encourage any neighbors who have home surveillance videos that may have captured more video of the suspect to provide that to police. 

"We are asking for the community's help and hopefully, we can bring him to justice," said Beckwith. 

Any other community members who feel they may have also been victimized are encouraged to come forward to police as they work to make an arrest. 

The suspect is expected to be charged with theft, vandalism and hate crimes. 

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