Walls of Connecticut synagogue defaced with antisemitic graffiti

Stoughton, Massachusetts holds Day of Kindness in response to swastikas found in park earlier this month

August 27, 2019 04:38
3 minute read.
Walls of Connecticut synagogue defaced with antisemitic graffiti

Supporters of the National Socialist Movement, a white nationalist political group, give Nazi salutes while taking part in a swastika burning at an undisclosed location in Georgia, US on April 21, 2018. (photo credit: GO NAKAMURA/REUTERS)

The Anti-Defamation League in Connecticut is offering a financial reward to anyone who has information that will help police find and bring to book those responsible for antisemitic and neo-Nazi graffiti found on a Newtown synagogue over the weekend.

Police confirmed in a statement to the press that they were investigating the incident as a hate crime and that they would be increasing patrols in the area.
According to the statement, the graffiti was found “on the front and side walls of the Adath Israel Synagogue.”

Soon after the discovery of the graffiti at the synagogue, the town’s public works department arrived to remove the graffiti and to paint over “the damaged area.”

“Police Chief James Viadero has been in contact with the ADL... and they have offered a reward of up to $2,500 for information that would lead to the arrest and conviction of the suspect or suspects responsible for this disturbing crime,” a police spokesman, Lt. Aaron Bahamonde, said in the statement. “As an agency, we are extremely disturbed at this act of defacing a house of worship, in particular the meaning and symbolism painted on the walls of the synagogue espouse hatred which is not indicative of this community.”

Bahamonde vowed that Newtown police would give this “serious hate crime” its full attention “while utilizing other law enforcement resources to determine the identity of those responsible.”

He added that the congregation had been assured that “enhanced patrols will continue in the area and that there will be a police presence during scheduled services.”

Newtown’s First Selectman Dan Rosenthal also condemned this “hateful desecration.”

He said in a statement that “the congregants of Adath Israel have contributed to the fabric of this community immeasurably for over 100 years.”

“Newtown has always been a place where people of all religions are welcome and have worked together hand in hand to build a better community and the hateful actions of an individual or individuals will not change that,” he said. “I look forward to personally asking the courts to offer no leniency when the vile individual is apprehended.”

In a statement, the ADL’s Connecticut branch said it was deeply concerned “after hearing of spray-painted neo-Nazi symbols, codes and slogans on Adath Israel Synagogue in Newtown, Connecticut.”

Connecticut regional director Steve Ginsburg said that “in the wake of violent acts of white supremacist terrorism this year targeting the Jewish, Latino, African-American, Muslim and LGBTQ communities, we must take this vandalism seriously and make sure our communities are safe in the face of hate.”

“We thank the Newtown Police Department for investigating this antisemitic vandalism as a hate crime,” he added.

In a Facebook post, Congregation Adath Israel of Newtown extended its “gratitude for the tremendous outreach we have experienced... in response to the intolerable acts of defamation upon our synagogue.”

“We vigorously oppose any acts of hate or disrespect and will continue to stand united against acts of antisemitism or any other forms of hateful acts against any institution, religion, race or gender,” the synagogue said. “Our congregation has been part of the greater Newtown community for over 100 years.

“We look forward to a future of mutual kindness, respect and inclusion for all our community members,” it added.

Meanwhile in Stoughton, Massachusetts, a Day of Kindness was held at Halloran Park after antisemitic graffiti, including swastikas, was found around the park earlier this month.

About 150 people, including families, children and community members drew beautiful artworks with chalk on the sidewalks promoting tolerance and unity.

Some of the chalk artworks included rainbows and colorful slogans like “Love Conquers Fear,” “Love is Love,” signs showing “hate” as forbidden, and a picture of the words “Bee Kind” with a bee drawn next to it.

The event was organized by recently appointed Stoughton school superintendent John Marcus after more than 20 swastikas were found drawn in chalk across Halloran Park.

Marcus told The Enterprise that he was “really happy to see so many people come out.”

“It was our way of saying we’re better than that, and our community values acceptance and kindness and love,” he said. “This was just a way to invite the community out and make a demonstration.”

“It sends a message of acceptance and kindness and welcoming, which is what certain communities are all about,” Marcus said, adding that the community is “not about negativity and driving a wedge between people.”

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