Swastikas Painted Onto Washington Synagogue and Holocaust Memorial

Police in Spokane, Washington, have started a hate-crime investigation into a series of swastikas that were spray-painted on a synagogue.

The Spokane Police Department received a report that the Temple Beth Shalom building had been vandalized with anti-Semitic graffiti at around 9.20 a.m. on Monday.

Officers who arrived on the scene found one side of the building and a Holocaust memorial had been defaced.

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The suspect, a white male, was seen alone on the Temple Beth Shalom camera system, according to police. He was wearing blue jeans, black boots, a dark-colored jacket with a hood, as well as a dark-colored beanie-style cap, black gloves, a red mask and sunglasses on his head.

Spokane police is investigating the matter as malicious harassment and a hate crime.

The department noted that the Revised Code of Washington's definition of a hate crime includes defacing religious real property with words, symbols, or items that are derogatory to persons of the faith associated with the property.

In a statement, Spokane Police Chief Craig Meidl said: "This action is reprehensible. There is no place for hate-mongering in our community. SPD takes this crime very seriously and is committed to doing everything possible to arrest the person or persons responsible."

Meidl added: "We will always stand with those who are the target of hate and bigotry."

Swastikas painted on Spokane synagogue
Swastikas were painted on the Temple Beth Shalom building and Holocaust memorial. Spokane Police Department

A post on Temple Beth Shalom Spokane's Facebook page said the community is "both angered and saddened that this has occurred."

"We are angered by this violation, but also grieve that members of our society carry such hatred. We remain vigilant in our fight to protect everyone's right to religious freedom and tolerance. We will not let these events deter us from living as Jews in our society," it said.

"Antisemitism is not only a strike against Jews, but against all who cherish our society for the love and freedoms we have."

The post also thanked those who had reached out with messages of support and offers of donations.

Spokane Mayor Nadine Woodward also condemned the vandalism. Spokane is "a community that welcomes different faiths and protects the ability of people to practice those beliefs safely and freely in their places of worship," she said in a statement.

Woodward added: "The symbols and writings are disgusting and desecrate a place of worship and a memorial to those whose lives were lost during a hateful time in world history."

The police department has dedicated numerous resources to the investigation of the hate crime, Woodward added.

"We speak on behalf of the community when we say this type of hate and divisiveness in our community will never be tolerated."

Yesterday, Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane was vandalized with swastikas in a disgusting act of antisemitism. We are in close contact with the synagogue and law enforcement to provide any support we can.

We cannot allow this hate to ever become normalized. pic.twitter.com/I44pIFMWZK

— ADL Pacific NW (@ADLPNW) February 9, 2021

The Anti-Defamation League of the Pacific Northwest tweeted: "Yesterday, Temple Beth Shalom in Spokane was vandalized with swastikas in a disgusting act of antisemitism.

"We are in close contact with the synagogue and law enforcement to provide any support we can. We cannot allow this hate to ever become normalized."

Anyone with information that would assist in the investigation is urged to call Crime Check at (509) 456-2233 and reference incident #2021-20021312.