Swastika painted on Duke University mural honoring synagogue massacre victims

Duke University's president condemned what he called a "craven and cowardly act of vandalism" Monday after a swastika was found on a mural honoring victims of last month's Pittsburgh synagogue massacre.

The Nazi symbol was painted over a Star of David on the wall of a tunnel underneath the East Campus Bridge at the North Carolina college. The area is a popular space for students to paint messages ranging from campus event promotions to memorials.

In a message to the Duke community, university President Vincent E. Price wrote that security would be stepped up at several locations, including the Freeman Center for Jewish Life.

"That such a craven and cowardly act of vandalism -- a desecration of a memorial to individuals who were killed because they were Jewish and practicing their faith -- should happen anywhere is extremely distressing," he wrote. "That it should occur in such a visible, public location at Duke should be a matter of grave concern to us all."

Price added that he would convene a meeting of university leaders, Jewish leaders, and public officials "to review this matter and advise us on the actions we can take to confront the scourge of anti-Semitism through education and activism."

Price also said that security cameras would be installed near the bridge, which he said "has unfortunately become a focus of attention for those who seek to promote hatred and intimidation." The Chronicle student newspaper reported that a Latin Heritage mural was defaced in September.

The Raleigh News & Observer reported that the swastika had been covered up by white paint as of Monday afternoon.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.