Dumb hate: Confused vandals tag vehicles with swastikas
Maybe vandals who spray-painted swastikas on more than 10 vehicles and residences in Westgate and Esperance meant to impart hope, goodwill and peace among their neighbors. After all, the symbols as sprayed – backwards – displayed the characteristics of an ancient Buddhist practice.
More likely, the vandals were just dum-dums who weren’t aware that they were unsuccessful in conveying their message of hate as co-opted by Nazi Germany. They also sprayed “Trump” on the side and rear of one car in Esperance.
It was early Monday, April 17, that Edmonds patrol officers took two reports from residents in the Westgate neighborhood of the swastikas, Edmonds Police Sgt. Josh McClure said, including along 93rd Place West, 218th Street SW and 100th Avenue West.
There were also reports of similar acts in nearby parts of unincorporated Edmonds, in Esperance, that were referred to the Snohomish County Sheriff’s Office.
During interviews of the Edmonds victims, there was no information that led them or the investigating officers to believe that they were targeted because of any specific protected class.
One Esperance couple, who live on 222nd Street SW, reported numerous swastikas around their neighborhood.
“My husband and I woke up this morning to find large swastikas painted on our cars and our neighbors' cars,” said Bond Huberman, a social media producer for KUOW radio.
“My husband walked around our block and found several other cars had the swastikas spray-painted on them, including one with ‘Trump’ painted on. I have no answers regarding who or why. The world just feels like it’s two clicks away from total chaos now.”
McClure said that the department received five reports from victims reporting damage to their property with the symbol, as well as other damage from spray paint.
“We are continuing to examine each incident as well as the incident as a whole to determine if there is a specific reason these people were targeted. We have also notified the local FBI office to make them aware of the situation, as we do in any investigation that may include a possible hate crime motivation.”
At this point, McClure said none of the victims feel they were targeted due to their race, color, religion, ancestry, national origin, gender, sexual orientation or mental, physical or sensory handicap. However, the Edmonds Police Department is continuing to investigate these crimes as possible hate crimes, in addition to the crime of vandalism.
“This sort of criminal behavior has no place in our society and is strongly condemned by me and any who stand up for the law and basic human dignity,” Edmonds Police Chief Al Compaan said. “We are asking for the public’s help with identifying suspects.”
The city of Edmonds also released a statement: “With regard the spray-painting of swastikas in Edmonds and Esperance, the Edmonds Diversity Commission condemns this act and encourages the police department and other city officials, with the assistance of Edmonds residents, to take all appropriate measures to identify the suspects, bring them to justice and work to ensure that such incidents do not happen again.”
Councilmember Mike Nelson read a statement during the April 18 council meeting:
“I understand that these acts may not be considered a hate crime under the eyes of the law because the target was not a protected class. I submit these acts were an assault on our community. A swastika can only serve one purpose, to instill fear and promote hatred. A symbol representing a horrific time in our world’s history, including the annihilation of 6 million Jewish people. Of course, some will say these recent acts are by a few rotten apples, isolated incidents.
“I believe something deeper is happening. The ground is shifting, and so is our tolerance of each another. We need to look out for every member of our community. We need to double down on our compassion and love of one another, to send a clear message that Edmonds is a loving community, because the times we live in demand it.”
If you have any information, contact 425-771-0212 or www.epdtips.edmondswa.gov.
The Doug’s dealership group on Highway 99 in Lynnwood is offering to help those who cars were vandalized.
“From the pictures, it looks like the paint may be able to be removed fairly easily,” said service director Lisa Reager. “With paint, time is of the essence – the longer it cures, the harder it will be to remove.
Contac Reager at firstname.lastname@example.org or 425-774-3551.