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DeWine orders increased police patrols at OSU following anti-Semitic hate crime

Police are looking for two people accused of vandalizing Israeli flags in the lobby of the Hillel Wexner Jewish Student Center on the Ohio State campus. (WSYX)
Police are looking for two people accused of vandalizing Israeli flags in the lobby of the Hillel Wexner Jewish Student Center on the Ohio State campus. (WSYX)
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Police are investigating two instances of anti-Semitism in the University District.

At about 1:30 a.m. Friday, two students were assaulted near 15th Avenue and High Street, just a couple blocks away from Ohio State's Hillel Wexner Jewish Student Center. They told police they took an Uber to Wexner Medical Center, where they were treated and released.

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The alleged victims also told police they had just left a bar on High Street when they were assaulted by two Middle Eastern men following a verbal altercation.

According to a public safety notice from Ohio State, "the suspects yelled a derogatory term and assaulted two students while asking if they were Jewish." A statement from police stated more clearly what the slur was, but ABC 6 is choosing not to publish it.

The notice also said, "the victim was intentionally selected because of the perpetrator’s bias against the victim," which made the assault a hate crime.

It doesn't appear that any arrests have been made in that case.

Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine said he has instructed the Ohio Highway State Patrol to work with OSU and Columbus police to increase patrols immediately around the campus.

"We will not tolerate hate and violence on our college campuses or anywhere in Ohio," DeWine said in a statement. "These are despicable acts, and as Governor, I will ensure that the State continues our efforts to protect all Ohio students."

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Earlier Thursday, in a separate incident, two women allegedly vandalized Israeli flags in the lobby of the Hillel center, and made several threats. Columbus police on Friday morning issued a statement outlining that incident:

"Two females entered the listed location saying they wanted to look around. The building is secured and the front desk let them in. Once inside one female stood by the front door while the other went into a room and began taking small Israeli flags. When confronted by staff the female ran out the door yelling "**** you", "you support genocide" and "free Palestine" while running to a waiting car. The female dropped the flags and her and the other female got in the car driven by a male and the vehicle left the area."

The Hillel Center posted about the incident on its Instagram account Thursday:

Just before noon Friday, OSU Acting President Dr. Peter Mohler shared his own statement with media about the incidents. He called them "despicable" and added that "The university will pursue all action possible against anyone committing hate crimes on or near our campus."

Naomi Lamb, the CEO of the Hillel Center, told ABC 6 on Friday that she's hearing about more and more such attacks around the country.

"This is reflective of anti-Semitism that is happening across the entire country on college campuses," she said. "This has been building up. Students are looking for support. We've been really proud of how the community has stepped up around us. The Jewish community here in Columbus has really stepped forward to support our safety and security efforts."

This story will be updated.

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