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Someone spray-painted a large swastika on a sign outside the office of a US congressman who was involved in a contentious argument over health care at a recent community meeting.
Democratic Rep. David Scott, who is black, said the swastika is the latest example of what he believes is an increasingly hateful and racist debate over reforming health care. The Atlanta lawmaker said he also has received mail in recent days that used racial slur references to him, and that characterized President Barack Obama as a Marxist.
"We have got to make sure that the symbol of the swastika does not win, that the racial hatred that's bubbling up does not win this debate," Scott said in a telephone interview. "That's what is bubbling up with all of this. There's so much hatred out there for President (Barack) Obama."
Scott said staffers discovered the graffiti Tuesday morning at his Smyrna, Georgia, district office. The Nazi emblem covered a sign bearing the congressman's name.
Scott said local police were notified along with the FBI, the US Secret Service and US Capitol Police, who have warned lawmakers about potential threats stemming from the increasingly emotional debate over health care reform.
Scott, a moderate Democrat who represents a majority-white district, said he thinks the racism is isolated but can't be ignored. He said the swastika was probably intended as a warning but hopes it instead convinces reasonable people that it's time to cool down the rhetoric surrounding health care.
"We must not allow it to intimidate us," he said.
Scott's Smyrna office is located in a bank building, so he said he is optimistic that surveillance cameras captured the vandalism.
At an Aug. 1 community meeting Scott angrily yelled at protesters who peppered him with questions and complaints about Democratic health care proposals. He has said he was upset that they interrupted a meeting that was supposed to be about plans for a new highway in the area.