University of Michigan regent’s law firm vandalized in antisemitic attack that police chief calls ‘horrific’

A Jewish University of Michigan regent’s law firm in Southfield, Michigan, was vandalized early Monday, spray painted with pro-Palestinian language in what the firm is calling an antisemitic attack.

Jordan Acker, who serves as a regent for the University of Michigan and partner for Goodman Acker, called the crime “an enormously difficult moment for me personally and for this entire community.” A regent is a state official elected to a board that oversees the university’s governance.

The incident is the second in a matter of weeks that Acker said he was targeted.

The law office was graffitied with phrases like, “divest now,” and “free Palestine,” on the building itself and on the sidewalk in front of the building, pictures from the firm show. One message apparently directed toward the attorney reads, “F**k you Acker.”

The Southfield Police Department is investigating the incident as a hate crime, Chief of Police Elvin Barren said at a Monday news conference, calling the vandalism “horrific.” The FBI, University of Michigan police and Huntington Woods police are assisting with the investigation, Barren added.

“Make no mistake that targeting individual Jewish elected officials is antisemitism,” Acker said at the news conference. “This has nothing to do with Palestine, or the war in Gaza, or anything else. This is done as a message to scare Jews.”

‘An attack on our values and our mission,’ founding partner says

In a prior incident, a masked intruder came to the door of Acker’s home on May 15 at 4:30 a.m., he said on X, noting his three daughters were asleep at the time. He called that incident “unacceptable” and said he would not be intimidated.

Barry Goodman, a founding partner of the firm, said Monday’s incident “was not an attack on our office but an attack on our values and our mission.”

Goodman went on to say the firm is not only owned by Jewish members, but also by Muslims and Christians.

“We proudly serve all faiths, all races, and have been doing so for over 30 years,” Goodman said. “This is absolutely ridiculous; this is a crime.”

Goodman said protesters are free to walk the sidewalk, hold signs, make statements, “everything that the Constitution allows, but they can’t do this.”

Southfield police officers said a preliminary investigation revealed that four people were captured on surveillance video outside the law office Monday morning at 1:39 am, Barren said during the news conference.

The individuals were at the office for about seven minutes, Barren said. CNN has reached out to police for the surveillance video.

University of Michigan President Santa J. Ono called the incident “unacceptable” in a statement to CNN.

“The vandalism that occurred at Regent Jordan Acker’s place of business is shocking and unacceptable. 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,” Ono said.

Gov. Gretchen Whitmer described the vandalism as “abhorrent” in a statement.

“Violence, vandalism, threats, and intimidation are unacceptable, and what we saw today in Southfield is abhorrent,” Whitmer said. “We must remain united in calling out hatred of any kind and continue working together toward peace in Michigan.”

Acker on Monday said he was “deeply grateful” for the support “from all walks of life” he’s received in the wake of the incident.

“I was not targeted here today because I am a regent. I am a target of this because I am Jewish.”

CNN’s Jen ONeil and Taso Stefanidis contributed to this report.

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