Several sites in the United States and Canada, most of them Jewish sites, were vandalized with swastikas this week.
In the first instance, a swastika made of tea lights was found outside a Saint Louis University dormitory.
The candles were spotted in the wee hours of April 23, according to police. Some students had reported seeing the candles before they were arranged into the shape of a swastika, according to a report in the Riverfront Times.
Police have no suspects on who rearranged the candles to resemble the Nazi insignia.
Meanwhile in Florida, an apartment complex in Orlando that houses several Jewish students from the nearby University of Central Florida was vandalized with swastikas.
Nearly one dozen swastikas were carved into the walls of the hallway where the Jewish students live at the University House Apartments, located several blocks from the UCF campus, according to local news reports.
The complex, which earlier this month had a mezuzah ripped from an apartment doorpost, is not affiliated with the university. However, the university released a statement condemning the act.
“The anti-Semitic vandalism that took place at an off campus apartment building is reprehensible,” the statement said.
The swastikas were discovered on Saturday. Some students told local media they believe the attack was planned to coincide with Holocaust Remembrance Day.
“It’s not like it was a little doodle by a kid. It was like someone keyed it onto the wall, circled it knowing there are Jewish students living here and on campus,” student Melissa Sherman told WFTV. “We don’t think the timing was an accident because it was Holocaust Remembrance Day Sunday night and she discovered it on Saturday.”
The complex immediately painted over the swastikas and released a statement to residents reiterating its concern over the incidents and offering a $500 reward for information leading to an arrest of anyone involved in the vandalism. In addition to roving patrols and security cameras being added to the property, the statement said “additional measures are being taken.”
In the mezuzah incident, the scroll inside was stolen.
In Canada, Calgary police were treating the scrawling of a swastika on a synagogue and several local schools as a hate crime.
The graffiti, which included vulgar drawings and language, was discovered on the buildings last week and has since been removed, according to Canadian reports. Police reportedly are looking for three suspects based on surveillance video from the scene.
One of the defaced institutions, a Chabad-Lubavitch center, saw similar graffiti in 2010.
“I’m disgusted that the swastika, the most hateful symbol there is in our society, could possibly be spray-painted anywhere, never mind on a Jewish institution,” Judy Shapiro, associate executive director of the Calgary Jewish Federation, told the Calgary Herald.
“It was really horrifying to see a burning swastika outside the building that I live in and realize that this is something that happens on my campus, in my home,” sophomore Sarah Nash told the Riverfront Times. “We wanted to get to the bottom of it so whoever did it would be talked to, would know it’s wrong.”
A statement from the university called such acts of intolerance unacceptable.
“A full investigation into this incident is being conducted by our Office of Student Responsibility and Community Standards in conjunction with the Office of Institutional Equity and Diversity, as well as the Department of Public Safety,” the university said.
“At SLU, we’re committed to providing a caring, effective and uniform response to anyone who is affected by a bias incident.”