LANSING, N.Y. — Police are investigating anti-Semitic graffiti found in Ludlowville Park this weekend, which included nazi symbols, derogatory language and a Star of David with a mark through it.
Ithaca resident Corinne Stern said her friend told her about the graffiti Sunday after visiting the park and gave Stern a photo of the Star of David with a line through it. Stern said she reported it to the New York State “hate crime hotline,” which was started by Governor Andrew Cuomo to investigate issues of discrimination and bias last year.
In addition to the defaced Star of David being scratched into the slide, the ceiling of the jungle gym attached to the slide had two Nazi symbols scratched into the plastic and the phrase “F— Jews” was written below one of them.
Sgt. Michael Soroka said local New York State Police investigators received the notification about the incident on Tuesday and are investigating the crime.
If someone is charged with the incident, he said punishment could range from a violation-level offense for criminal mischief to a felony-level hate crime.
“The first thing to know is that you’re not unsafe,” Soroka said about the incident.
He said that no violence has been connected to the incident and anti-Semitic crimes do not appear to be increasing locally.
“We haven’t had an outbreak of incidents like this but we’re always vigilant,” Soroka said.
He said that in the 29 years he’s been an officer, hate crimes happen from time to time. He said he encourages people to use the same precautions they always do and call 911 if a person is afraid for his or her safety.
The phone number to the hotline to report hate crimes, bias or discrimination is 888-392-3644 and it is available from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday – Friday.
Rabbi Scott Glass of Temple Beth El said, “It makes me angry. It saddens me. It makes me feel like people need to be educated. That’s what it feels like.”
He said he doesn’t want to give the incident undue publicity, but he does think it’s important to speak out about the incident and report it to police. Other incidents of anti-Semitism have been reported across the country recently, with about 100 headstones overturned in a Jewish cemetery in Philadelphia this week.
He also said on social media:
”I would encourage people to react from a position of strength and rectitude, not fear. I refuse to allow cowards who do these things anonymously–threatening phone calls and vandalizing public places with graffiti–scare me. And I hope others will agree. Let them know that we will not shrink from fright but will report them–not to give them publicity but to shame them!”