Southfield law firm vandalized with ‘Free Palestine' and ‘divest now’

Workers at a Southfield law firm arrived Monday morning to find their building had been vandalized with multiple phrases associated with the pro-Palestine movement, which the law firm says was an antisemitic attack.

Goodman Acker Law Firm said it was vandalized early Monday morning with red paint on their sign and red handprints on the glass door. ‘Free Palestine’ was also spray-painted on the sign near the road and the outside wall of both law offices – as well as ‘divest now’ on the front steps and multiple f-words, directed at Jordan Acker.

The law firm says the attack is antisemitic in nature and called it appalling. 

There was also the phrase ‘UM kills’ on the front door of the business – a reference to Acker's role on the University of Michigan Board of Regents. This is the second time that protesters have targeted Acker – in mid-May, a masked man showed up with a list of demands at his home in Oakland County.

"This is an enormously difficult moment for me, personally, and this community. Make no mistake, that targeting individual Jewish elected officials is antisemitism. This has nothing to do with Palestine, the war in Gaza, or anything else. This is done as a message to scare Jews," Acker said.

He added that the vandalism and the threats are a direct attack on him and his beliefs.

"This feels like an attack on my Americanness. My dad helped found this business and for 30-plus years we've fought to help Michiganders regardless fo their race, religion or creed," he said. "This is an attack on who we are as a Michigan community."

"I am targeted with this because I am Jewish. this neighborhood is Jewish and because some people, under the pretext of helping Palestinians, feel the obligation to single out Jews, especially liberal ones, for an attack," Acker said.

Monday afternoon, Acker was joined by his partner, Barry Goodman, state Senator Jeremy Moss, and Southfield Police Chief Elven Barren. During the press conference, Goodman said the law firm supports the right to protest but not to do damage like this.

"This was not an attack on our office but an attack on our vision," Goodman said. "This is a crime. They can make statements. They can protest in front of the building and walk down the sidewalk. they can have their signs. They can do everything that the constitution allows but they surely can't do this."

Acker agreed and said he has no problem with protesters on the sidewalk - and that extends to the University of Michigan, but that doesn't mean people can claim the space for themselves.

"I have no issue with going to the University of Michigan Diag. I do have a problem with a public space that is for everyone - and not one specific group has exclusive rights to that," he said.

Moss said he understands that protesters want peace but this isn't how to get it done.

"We all want the framework of ceasefire to succeed. This does not achieve that. There are horrible ongoing conflicts and tragedies all over the world that deserve our attention and the war against Hamas is not an exception. what makes it the exception is the obsessive focus on Israel alone that has led to incitement of harassment, threats, and now vandalism against Jews anywhere," Moss said. 

He added that the attack on the law firm is the latest step in the campus protests that he says have been antisemitic in nature from the start.

"We believe the protesters who tell Jews to go back to Poland. We believe the protesters who want to globalize an intifada right here. We believe the protesters who say all Zionists deserve to die. when 90% of Jewish Americans support Israel's right to exist as a Jewish homeland, all of us are vulnerable to these public acts of hate for how we express our Judaism. This is antisemitism," Moss said.

He said that the vandals are underestimating the community.

"What the antisemitic vandals might not know is how strong the city of Southfield is and how we value our racial, religious, and ethnic diversity," Moss aid.

Barren said videos show those responsible arriving just after 1:30 Monday morning and leaving seven minutes. He said four people were involved with one serving as a lookout as three others defaced the property. He said they are investigating it as a hate crime.

This is not the first time Acker has been targeted by pro-Palestinian protesters. Last month, a man showed up at his home around 4 a.m. with a list of demands.

The law firm says it is a Muslim and Jewish-owned business that has served the community for 30 years with a long history of supporting civil rights and fighting against discrimination.

Now, police are searching for the suspects involved in the vandalism. Anyone who may have been in the area of 10 Mile and Greenfield around 1:30 Monday morning is urged to call Southfield Police.

"It is unacceptable, it is un-American, and it must stop now," Acker said.