Police at the University of California, Davis are investigating a string of recent vandalism incidents as a possible hate crime. Late last Sunday night or early the following morning, an unknown person smashed car windshields, shattered campus windows, and wrote a racial epithet on a chalkboard.

"Broken windows, broken buildings we can fix those. Hurtful speech in our community has a lasting, longer effect," UC Davis Police Chief Matt Carmichael told KCRA-TV.

The racial epithet was written in Dutton Hall, which houses the financial aid, student judicial affairs, transfers, and veterans centers. Chancellor Linda P.B. Katehi issued a statement this week:

"No act of hate will be tolerated at UC Davis. I am incensed, and at the same time heartbroken, that this occurred this week in particular--a week where we acknowledge one of the greatest moments in American civil rights history."

That the alleged hate crime occurred in a week celebrating the fiftieth anniversary of the March on Washington and Martin Luther King, Jr.'s "I Have a Dream" speech is an awful irony, given that the campus's law school, King Hall, is named for the slain civil rights leader.

A similar rash of hate-related vandalism occurred in 2010, when swastikas were found on campus grounds and buildings housing lesbian and gay organizations were vandalized. The perpetrators were never identified.

["Broken window repair" via clemsonunivlibrary on Flickr, Creative Commons Licensed]