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The GW Hatchet


The GW Hatchet

Serving the GW Community since 1904

The GW Hatchet

Person throws rock, damages truck showing anti-Hamas message

Kacey Chapman | Staff Photographer
A truck for advocacy organization JewBelong was damaged by an unknown person Wednesday.

Updated: Nov. 15, 2023, at 6:41 p.m.

An unknown subject threw a rock and shattered the glass of a Jewish nonprofit organization’s billboard truck outside Kogan Plaza Wednesday.

The driver of the truck, Adam Tavernier, alleged that a female subject threw a roughly 4-inch rock at a billboard on the back of his truck that read “Let’s be clear: Hamas is your problem too” on the truck that belongs to JewBelong — an organization supporting Judaism and combating antisemitism — at around 12:30 p.m. Tavernier alleged the subject said “Free Palestine” when he asked her why she threw the rock before she fled the scene.

Tavernier said the subject threw a rock at the billboard shortly after he parked on H Street between 21st and 22nd streets at noon. He said there was “no specific reason” that he parked on GW’s campus but added he was in D.C. for a pro-Israel protest on the National Mall Tuesday.

“I’ve never had this happen,” Tavernier said. “I’ve been probably to 100 college campuses and never had anybody damage the truck.”

He said he filed a police report with Metropolitan Police Department officers, who said they would investigate if the subject was a GW student.

MPD did not immediately return a request for comment.

“The University is aware of reports of the vandalization of a pro-Jewish and anti-Hamas mobile billboard sponsored by an outside organization that was parked on a public street on campus,” University spokesperson Julia Metjian said in an email. “The DC Metro Police Department responded and are at the scene, with George Washington University Police actively supporting this response.”

GW Police Department Chief James Tate and at least two GWPD police cars responded shortly after the incident, which subsequently drew a small crowd of onlookers. Dean of Students Colette Coleman and Assistant Dean of Student Life Brian Joyce also arrived on scene.

On the side of the truck, there was another billboard that read, “We’re just 75 years since the gas chambers. So no, a billboard calling out Jew hate isn’t an overreaction.”

The incident follows rising tensions on campus after the outbreak of the Israel-Hamas war, where student groups have hosted vigils, protests and walkouts in support of both Israelis and Palestinians. On Tuesday, GW suspended Students for Justice in Palestine at GWU from hosting and participating in on-campus activities until at least Feb. 12, 2024, after four members of the group projected anti-Israel and anti-GW messages onto Gelman Library last month — just steps away from where the truck was parked.

The truck’s appearance and subsequent vandalism also came just a few hours before a protest in Kogan Plaza at 4 p.m. organized by the Student Coalition for Palestine at GWU a group of student organizations advocating for the end of the “violent Zionist system” and demanding the University immediately reinstate SJP in response to their suspension.

Facilities finished clearing the glass off the street at around 1:20 p.m.

This post was updated to include the following:

The Hatchet updated this post to include a statement from Julia Metjian.

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