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Nashville university community offers support after professor’s home is vandalized with white supremacist graffiti

Video footage showed a suspect spray-painting the house with swastikas and ripping down a Black Lives Matter flag

A Nashville community is coming together with messages of support for Black and Jewish people after a professor’s home was vandalized with white supremacist slogans and swastikas.

According to a statement released by Tennessee State University, the home of history professor Andrew Patrick was defaced on March 19.

In a video released by the university, Patrick said his wife went downstairs at 8:15 a.m. and told him to come down.

“I went down and right on our front door, which is glass, there was a swastika painted. She told me to go outside and I find two more swastikas and two statements, ‘white power,’ on either side.”

Doorbell camera footage captured at 1:30 a.m. showed a suspect spray-painting the door and then tearing down a Black Lives Matter flag that Patrick and his family had hung outside. According to the university, it was the second time such a flag had been destroyed by vandals at the house.

While Nashville is relatively progressive, the area has seen an uptick in notable white supremacist incidents, according to Rabbi Philip “Flip” Rice of Congregation Micah. Although he’d heard about this incident, Rice didn’t know the details of the graffiti at Patrick’s home, but said it matched other times where graffiti or pamphlets had been distributed with anti-Jewish messages.

Within hours of the vandalism, dozens of neighbors had come by the Patricks’ home to help scrub off the vandalism, including two other TSU professors, according to the school’s statement. Many also helped to paint more than 100 signs bearing messages of support for the Patrick family, as well as Black Lives Matter and the Jewish community. Aside from the Patrick house, several other homes were struck by vandals in March.

Rice said the Jewish community in Nashville has been particularly on edge given recent events in the state such as a school shooting that left six people dead and the state legislature’s ensuing vote to remove two Black Democratic representatives over a gun reform protest.

The synagogue’s preschool has removed a sign out front in the wake of the vandalism, Rice said.

“Everyone is trying to balance the values of being warm and welcoming and also being a little under the radar,” he said.

Patrick, who identifies as a non-religious white man but who was raised Catholic, said it’s been heartening to see support from his colleagues. Tennessee State is a historically Black university.

“That’s one thing, our department’s a really lovely department,” he said. “It’s a little bit of a window into what it’s like to be intimidated for what you believe or who you are. It’s really instructive and it’s eye-opening. It makes you think differently about the world and what you should be doing in the world.”

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