Big Blue Blues

UMich Jewish regent targeted for second time

Jordan Acker's law office in Southfield vandalized: 'I believe this was a message to be sent to the Jewish community'

Courtesy Jordan Acker

Vandals scrawled antisemitic and anti-Israel messages early Monday morning at the law office of University of Michigan regent Jordan Acker in Southfield, a heavily Jewish suburb of Detroit.

The exterior of University of Michigan Board of Regents member Jordan Acker’s law office was vandalized overnight on Monday with the phrases “FREE PALESTINE,” “DIVEST NOW,” “FUCK YOU ACKER” and “UM KILLS” scrawled on the walls, walkway and front window. The incident is the second time during the Israel-Hamas war that Acker, who is Jewish, has been targeted by anti-Israel demonstrators. 

“It’s a disgusting escalation and pure antisemitism,” Acker, who is a former Obama administration official and has sat on the school’s Board of Regents since 2018, told Jewish Insider. “This has nothing to do with Palestine. I am one of eight [regents] and I was the only person targeted. I believe that’s because I’m Jewish. I believe this was a message to be sent to the Jewish community.”  

According to video footage obtained by the Goodman Acker personal injury law firm, which is located in a heavily Orthodox Jewish neighborhood of Southfield — about 30 minutes away from the University of Michigan campus in Ann Arbor — the incident occurred at approximately 2 a.m. when four masked individuals splattered the front walkway, the sign over the door and the building’s walls with red and black spray paint and the antisemitic and anti-Israel messages.

Southfield police told local newspaper Deadline Detroit that the department responded to a 911 call Monday morning and is investigating the matter. “The investigation is in its infancy,” Lt. Mo Bzeih said. “We want to gather the preliminary facts before we put out a statement. We’re canvassing the area.” 

“The vandalism that occurred at Regent Jordan Acker’s place of business is shocking and unacceptable,” University of Michigan’s president, Santa Ono, said in a statement. “Singling out this dedicated public servant and defacing his workplace in the middle of the night is an act of antisemitic cowardice that Southfield police have indicated is being investigated as a hate crime. Such harassment and attempts to intimidate have no place in a civil society and certainly no place in our university community.”

Many Michigan lawmakers and candidates for office expressed support for Acker and condemned the incident. Republican Senate candidate and former Rep. Mike Rogers (R-MI) tagged the incident as antisemitic, while his Democratic opponent, Rep. Elissa Slotkin (D-MI) called it “intimidation related to the Middle East conflict.”

“We have yet another instance of the use of intimidation related to the Middle East conflict. If your ‘protest’ tactics include vandalism and violent language, you’re not protesting — you’re breaking the law and discrediting your cause at the same time,” Slotkin said in a statement. “And anyone carrying that out should be held legally accountable.” 

Rep. Debbie Dingell (D-MI) said in a statement to JI, “Vandalism and acts of violence and hate against anyone for any reason are completely unacceptable. I condemn these actions in the strongest terms. Hate is being normalized in too many communities, and we must stand up to hate wherever and whenever we see it.”

Rep. Haley Stevens (D-MI) wrote on X, “Jordan Acker and the Goodman Acker law firm have my love and support… so many drive by his place of work every day and it’s painful to see this attack on a place of business. Today and everyday, I denounce Jewish hate with every fiber in my being.”   

Sen. Gary Peters (D-MI) told JI in a statement, “I condemn today’s antisemitic attack on University of Michigan Regent Jordan Acker’s Office in Southfield. While everyone has a right to express their views, there is absolutely no place for vandalism or violent rhetoric of any kind of in our state. It’s up to all of us to call out these attacks targeting Michiganders for who they are or their religion.”

Last month, as Acker, his wife and three daughters were asleep, his doorbell app obtained footage of a stranger wearing a red keffiyeh over his face walking up to the family’s front door. He stood there for several moments, placed papers on the door and took photographs before leaving. The incident occurred in the wake of University of Michigan police breaking up an anti-Israel illegal encampment on the Diag, the main quad, that engulfed the campus for nearly a month. One of the papers, a list of demands for the leadership of the University of Michigan, was signed: “In liberation, the UMich Gaza Solidarity Encampment.”

Jewish Insider congressional correspondent Emily Jacobs and senior national correspondent Gabby Deutch contributed reporting. 

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