At about 3 a.m. Sunday, Rabbi Yossi Lazaroff left Texas A&M University’s Chabad Jewish Center, driving an hour and a half to take his son to Houston’s Hobby Airport.
Minutes after he left College Station, video footage shows an unknown man kicking and hitting the student community center’s outdoor sign until it fell off its hinges, later removing the maroon-and-white sign from the premises, Lazaroff said.
Lazaroff returned at about 7:30 a.m. to see empty space between the two white signposts outside the building.
“This was damage, this was vandalism,” Lazaroff said Sunday.
Campus Chabad centers, like Hillel organizations, host events for students like weekly dinners and holiday celebrations.
Lazaroff said the center aims to be a “home for students the entire time they’re here.”
College Station Police are investigating the crime as a theft, not a hate crime, said Sgt. Roy Shelton.
He said surveillance video was not helpful in identifying the suspect. Lazaroff described the figure as a tall, skinny man.
The act has led to online outcry among Jewish students and administrators, especially after an August incident in which a blue-and-white 13-foot Hillel welcome banner was stolen and then quickly returned in August.
A senior A&M student launched a crowdfunding page Sunday to raise money to replace the sign. Lazaroff said the next iteration will be bigger, lit and ready to welcome students.
“When things like that happen, you feel violated,” he said. “It’s a violation of what rightfully belongs to us.”