PORT WASHINGTON, N.Y. (CBSNewYork) — Anti-Semitic vandalism on Long Island has shocked residents of Port Washington.
The Police Athletic League building was broken into and covered in spray-painted swastikas, outraging the community.
Rob Elkins, executive director of the Port Washington PAL, found the graffiti. More than a dozen giant swastikas were spray-painted in red on the walls, on bathroom tile, on equipment and on cards written by children.
“So disgraceful, so disheartening,” Elkins told CBS2’s Carolyn Gusoff. “It’s so painful. It’s awful. There’s just, there’s no room for this level of hatred, and especially against kids.”
The youth sports haven was shockingly defaced sometime Sunday or Monday. The back door was pried open.
Vandals found spray paint in the office. It was used just last week to cover up white supremacy graffiti at the baseball field.
“Whoever did this will be brought to justice, we will make sure. This community needs answers,” North Hempstead Town Councilwoman Mariann Dalimonte said.
The path of destruction winds through the building. The vandals even spray-painted the back of the tractor and its seats.
The Port Washington police chief apologized after initially not calling it a hate crime. Hate crimes carry harsher penalties than vandalism.
Sen. Anna Kaplan, who as a child fled anti-Semitism in Iran, says this attack on one is an attack on all.
“To see this here is really just shocking, but we know we are not immune,” Kaplan said.
The Anti-Defamation League says 2019 was the worst in decades for anti-Semitic incidents like this.
Elkins sees it as a call to action.
“We are going to be an advocate for public education and public awareness and tolerance of all beliefs,” he said.
The PAL is planning a Nov. 1 event with the motto “Replace, restore, repair.” They’re talking not only about the damaged property but the community.
A GoFundMe page has raised thousands of dollars to help pay for repairs and better security.
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