UFPD arrests student for vandalizing pro-Israel sign 

A UF graduate student was arrested after vandalizing a pro-Israel sign in front of a Jewish fraternity house.
A UF graduate student was arrested after vandalizing a pro-Israel sign in front of a Jewish fraternity house.
Courtesy of UF Hillel

University of Florida police arrested a 24-year-old graduate student for vandalizing a pro-Israel sign in front of a Jewish fraternity house on the UF campus.  

According to a press release, UFPD filed a sworn complaint on Nov. 7 against Simon Nicholas Lowry, a graduate student and teaching assistant, who faces two misdemeanor counts of criminal mischief. 

UFPD also issued a trespass warning, which bars Lowry from campus for up to three years, pending appeal.  

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“This student’s actions were deliberate and unacceptable and will not be tolerated at the University of Florida,” UFPD Chief Linda Stump-Kurnick said in a statement. “Free speech is protected. Vandalism is not. And we will do our very best to ensure that the University of Florida is a welcoming place for all.” 

The arrest came two weeks after UFPD responded reports that a banner, which said “AEII STANDS WITH ISRAEL,” had been vandalized on the front lawn of Alpha Epsilon Pi fraternity house. The word “ISRAEL” had been crossed out, and “PALESTINE” was scrawled above it.  

Police used cameras in the area to identify Lowry, who later admitted to vandalizing the sign during an interview, according to the UFPD press release.  

AEPi plans to hang a new pro Israel banner to replace the one that was recently vandalized.
Courtesy of UF Hillel AEPi plans to hang a new pro-Israel banner to replace the one that was recently vandalized.

Rabbi Jonah Zinn, executive director UF Hillel, said the sign was hung the weekend of Oct. 20 and was vandalized three separate times.  

“I am grateful to our partners at University of Florida Police Department for their hard work to identify those responsible for this vandalism at the Alpha Epsilon Pi house,” Zinn said in a statement after the arrest announcement. “They installed additional cameras to help catch the suspect and continue to provide additional police presence around the chapter facility.” 

Zinn said AEPi plans to hang a new banner and that UFPD will continue to monitor the house and other Jewish spaces on and off the UF campus. He said his organization is working with UFPD to conduct security assessments at all five Jewish fraternity and sorority facilities at UF in order to harden them.  

“Please join me in expressing tremendous gratitude to UF Assistant Vice President of Public and Environmental Safety and Chief of Police, Linda Stump-Kurnick, and her team, for all of their hard work and willingness to prioritize our community,” Zinn wrote in his Thursday update.  

The vandalism incident came amid a sharp rise in reported antisemitic incidents in the wake of the Oct. 7 terrorist attack in Israel and Israel’s responding campaign against Hamas.  

On Nov. 7, Chabad UF hosted an event, attended by UF administration officials, to provide support and resources to ensure the safety of Jewish students on campus.  

“We are in constant touch with the UF Administration offices, and local and state law enforcement,” Chavad UF leaders wrote in an email update. “They work day and night to keep our students and community safe and provide the highest level of professionalism and care to all.” 

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