Synagogue and School Vandalized With Swastikas Spur Hate Crime Charges: Police

The discovery of antisemitic vandalism at two cultural centers and a high school resulted in hate crime charges for the man allegedly responsible and a broader investigation into a string of similar acts.

Yellow swastika symbols were found spray-painted on or near two Jewish cultural locations in Chicago on Sunday afternoon, reported NBC Chicago. The first was found on a wall of the F.R.E.E. Synagogue, a synagogue near the neighborhood of West Ridge at 4:40 p.m. Around the same time, another one was discovered on a shipping container used by the Hanna Sacks Bais Yaakov High School a block away.

On Tuesday, Chicago Police announced the arrest of Shahid Hussain, 39, for the vandalism. Hussain faces four hate crime charges and criminal charges for damage and defacement, according to police.

Hussain appeared in the Leighton Criminal Courthouse on Friday and was given a bond of $250,000, according to the Chicago Sun-Times. Judge Barbara Dawkins called his charges "a textbook case of a hate crime."

anti semitic graffiti arrest chicago
Shahid Hussain, 39, has been arrested for allegedly spray-painting antisemitic symbols on Jewish buildings in Chicago. Here, a protest against antisemitism held in Berlin, Germany. Carsten Koall/Getty Images

Police discovered Hussain at around 6:15 p.m. on Sunday while responding to a call about a man shouting antisemitic slurs. Officers determined that he fit the description of the suspect in the graffiti cases and detained him.

Officials are currently investigating video evidence to see if Hussain can be linked to more acts of vandalism against Jewish buildings that occurred around the same time as the graffiti. So far, he stands accused of allegedly shattering glass at another synagogue a few blocks away from F.R.E.E. on Saturday.

Hussain has also potentially been linked to an incident where students in a dormitory spotted a man allegedly kicking in the side window of yet another synagogue. He reportedly wore a cape and a red hat as he walked around the building shouting about Jews and mimicking the action of racking a shotgun with his hands, according to a video taken of the incident.

"Hate has no place in this neighborhood and bigotry will not be tolerated," Debra Silverstein, alderman for Chicago's 50th Ward, said. "I have always prided myself on representing the most diverse neighborhood in the city of Chicago. Our diversity is our strength, but we can only stand strong when everyone feels safe."

Hussain was reportedly on parole at the time of the alleged vandalism, CBS Chicago reported, for 2017 charges related to forgery and burglary in DuPage County, Illinois. Assistant State's Attorney James Murphy said that investigators also found a Facebook post where Hussain wore a fake Hitler mustache and made hand gestures similar to the Nazi salute, according to the Chicago Sun-Times.

"I encourage everybody to take this moment also to bring more good and more light in the world, and this way make the world a better place," Rabbi Baruch Hertz said during a press conference on Tuesday. "And the message is that we will stand stronger and build even stronger and greater, and this way bring a unity to our community."